Calzaghe and Warren doth protest too much; the Stockholm syndrome

There isn’t a facet of Joe Calzaghe and former promoter Frank Warren’s current activity which couldn’t be labelled, ‘old ground’. Firstly, Calzaghe next tackles faded superstar Roy Jones, 39, in a bout so out of date, so out of fashion, its almost coming back in style. Secondly, Calzaghe’s split from Warren at the peak of his earning-power and ensuing court cases and law suits has echoes of Ricky Hatton’s 2005 departure. Thirdly, the use of media columns to launch critiques of the ethics and morals of the other party is all to familiar too. None of those stir me from a long yawn, but a fourth strand to their disagreement does.

Since the acrimonious divorce, Frank Warren has spoken loudly and frequently of his consternation at Calzaghe’s selection of Roy Jones Jnr as his next opponent. Justifying his criticism by leaning heavily on Calzaghe’s recent Autobiography in which the Welshman described Jones as “washed up”, a sentiment at loggerheads with Calzaghe’s more recent assessment of the challenge the American will present.

Warren also seeks to suggest he would have negotiated better terms for the Jones fight had it been under his control and furthermore, would have preferred to pursue a clash with Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik as it represented a ‘richer’ fight and one more likely to enhance Joe’s legacy.

Similarly, Joe Calzaghe has dismissed the merits of Pavlik – though adding the caveat that he expects the Youngstown banger to beat Bernard Hopkins, a fighter Calzaghe is building much of his current standing upon – and intimated he “got brave once I’d signed to fight Jones”.

Lets be honest here. Both statements, if the track-record of Calzaghe and Warren are examined, are close to ridiculous.

Any study of Frank Warren’s matchmaking for his star attractions; Hamed, Calzaghe, Hatton and latterly Khan does not lead a educated observer to conclude he would have pursued an ambitious young puncher, with height and reach advantages in preference to a 39 year old, with comparable box-office appeal far removed from his prime. Warren openly states that Jones’ star is in such decline he must feel he’s hit the lottery getting a 50-50 split with Calzaghe.

As a promoter who willingly confirms the suspicion he never puts his fighters into a fight in which their chances are not better than 50-50 and being acutely aware Calzaghe would likely retire following this bout, he wouldn’t have taken the Pavlik risk. Calzaghe v Jones would have filled a venue in the UK, it will still do strong interest in the US and represents significantly lower risk than knockout artist Kelly Pavlik, 26, would offer.

It would have fitted snugly with Warren’s modus operandi. To believe anything else is misguided and naive.

Calzaghe meanwhile cannot escape the quotations in his book.  Regardless of the verve Jones showed in beating a retired Welterweight, Felix Trinidad, the context of Trinidad’s capabilities at that point has to be applied. In reality, Jones hasn’t looked even 60% of his outrageous best since he beat John Ruiz. At Light-Heavyweight, his once peerless speed gone, his reflex diminished, his aura vapourised by Tarver and Johnson and the vulnerability of his chin exposed, he has become a shadow of his virtually incomparable prime.

If this bout proves to be Calzaghe’s last, and I still have reservations about that if he emerges victorious and unscathed from the clash with Jones, then he was never likely to have unduly risked his preciously held unbeaten record in his final bout. The bout will be entertaining, but it is little more than a victory parade for Calzaghe’s career. A testimonial bout versus the Harlem Globe Trotters. It seems scandalous to bracket Calzaghe with the likes of Marciano, the former having played the sanctioning body system expertly in a manner unavailable to the Rock, but you cannot escape his longevity, will to win and unquestioned talent. Adding a long-unbeaten record should offer him sanctuary from the career autopsy performed on preceding superstars. But of course it wont.

I admire Calzaghe compilation of such a pristine resume but it was achieved without encountering many of his contemporaries in the 160-175 divisions. It is Calzaghe’s previous form which underlines the notion his selection of Jones over Pavlik is merely a money-making continuation of the safety first match-making he claims to be trying to escape.

Those “shackles” didn’t dig to deep did they Joe? Either that or you’ve developed a nasty case of the Stockholm syndrome. I’ve always been a greater advocate of Calzaghe’s talents but he remains the most frustrating elite fighter of his generation, fighting Jones Jnr. rather than Pavlik will only deepen that feeling.

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