OCTOBER 8, 2008 was a day a legend said goodbye, and perhaps the other legend he shared the ring with that day should have too.
Joe Calzaghe got the better of Roy Jones Jnr at Madison Square Garden with a unanimous points decision to retain the linear light-heavyweight belt he won from Bernard Hopkins earlier that year and leave boxing with an unblemished 46-0 record.
All three judges gave it 118-109 to the Welshman who was relentless throughout and eventually overwhelmed Jones, whose slide from the top of the boxing tree was well and truly underway, although he did put Calzaghe down in the first.
Save for that one flash of brilliance from Jones, he offered little else during the 12 rounds, and the blurring speed, dazzling combinations and sharp skills that he was known for were nowhere to be seen on what was a disastrous night for him.
Calzaghe rode off into the sunset, one of the few world champions to ever retire on top, with an undefeated record to boot, and while Jones is still trying to regain past glories, Calzaghe is content and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canastota earlier this year.
It was a big fight in the USA and Calzaghe had already announced it as his farewell performance due to a lack of legitimate challenges. He had already beaten Hopkins in Vegas, and the Philadelphian was ringside in the hope of snaring the eventual winner.
Both weighed in at 174.5lbs and entered the Garden in confident moods. Calzaghe started fast, but a flashy left-right combination from Jones had him stunned on the canvas. He said after, “I was stunned. He hit me with a good shot. But that’s what a champion’s all about. When I fall, I come back stronger.”
That he did. Calzaghe found his feet in the second and his rhythm in the third, firing in fast combinations and backing Jones towards the ropes. The American showed some bravado, screaming “come on” to Calzaghe, but the Welshman’s onslaught continued and Jones must have been wishing he was anywhere but New York.
To compound the misery for Jones he suffered a cut and had to fight the majority of the second half of the fight with a closed left eye. When the final bell rang, Jones raised his arm to, if anything, persuade himself that he might have won, but there was absolutely no doubt who the victor was.
Calzaghe retired immediately after the fight, although in his post-fight interview he didn’t fully confirm that this was to be his intention. He remains one of the greatest British fighters of all-time.
As for Jones, following the fight he said, “I’ll go back and talk to my team, talk to my family and see how I feel. If I feel good, I’ll continue to fight.”
Needless to say he carried on and is still active, winning his last five fights and fighting up at cruiserweight. Jones has looked the shell of his former self, ever since Antonio Tarver knocked him out back in 2004 but, despite regular calls for him to retire, he continues to believe he can be a world champion again.