I watched the first full live professional boxing match of my life Saturday night. Joe Calzaghe managed to beat Bernard Hopkins with a whole lot of punches in a sloppy, clinch-based match. It was a whole lot of pageantry before the show, a whole lot of chasing and counterpunching by Hopkins, and Calzaghe doing this:
It was the high point of the match.
I really like watching old boxing matches, whether or not lots of personalities were involved. I think that makes things better, because Ali and Tyson are probably the two most famous fighters of all time. But Calzaghe-Hopkins was proof that maybe characters can't make up for great boxing. The storyline was fantastic, as was HBO's video package for each boxer.
Hopkins, the wily former-champ veteran who plays mind games and vowed to "never let a white boy beat him" to goad Calzaghe into the fight.
Calzaghe, the white boy in question and the pride of Newbridge, Wales, a champion for over a decade and fighting in the States for the first time.
It was a great storyline but only an okay match. And that might not cut it it anymore.
I think boxing can survive in the age of MMA, but it's going to take some improvement in product. That was way too clinchy, drawn-out, and Hopkins got away with faking low blows. Next time: what boxing can do to make itself viable in the years to come.