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DeGale-Jack and the RING super middleweight title

James DeGale (right) faces off against fellow titleholder Badou Jack (left). Photo / Amanda Westcott-Showtime
11
Jan

When James DeGale and Badou Jack collide this Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, the stakes will be high.

The two best 168-pound fighters on the planet will duke it out for super middleweight supremacy, with each putting his sanctioning-body belt on the line. The victor will also become the RING super middleweight champion, which, as you will soon discover, is one very rare distinction.

On March 4, 2006, future Hall of Famer Joe Calzaghe dominated knockout artist Jeff Lacy over 12 rounds in an unforgettable night in Manchester, England, making Calzaghe the first RING champion ever at super middleweight.

Why did it take the RING so long to crown a champion at this weight?

The first sanctioning-body titleholder at super middleweight was Murray Sutherland, who defeated Ernie Singletary to win the newly instituted IBF belt in 1984. And over the course of the next four years, the WBA, WBC and WBO all had titleholders at the weight.

The big problem in securing a worthy RING champion, however, was that there were four men claiming to be king and a distinct lack of unification bouts between them. The same problem, unfortunately, exists to this day and it’s one reason why only five weight classes have a RING champ at the moment.

The other issue is that the RING championship policy was abandoned, due to new ownership, during the early 1990s and it didn’t reemerge until 2001.

A lot happened at super middleweight during that time, including the reigns of pound-for-pound stars James Toney and Roy Jones Jr. as well as the 1994 superfight between the pair. There were quality British fighters in the form of Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank, Irishman Steve Collins made a serious splash and German technician Sven Ottke won a string of world title bouts at home.

When the RING belt returned to prominence, it took five years for a true super middleweight champion to be found and Calzaghe was more than worthy. The rapid-fire southpaw defended the belt on three occasions before moving up to light heavyweight in 2008.

Shortly after Calzaghe ventured north, Showtime announced the Super Six World Boxing Classic in a bid to establish the Welshman’s successor. Despite injuries, replacement fighters and several delays, it was an inspired idea, and when the smoke cleared, Andre Ward was declared the winner by virtue of a 12-round unanimous decision over Carl Froch on December 17, 2011. Along with a trophy and other accolades came the RING super middleweight championship.

Ward, who had defeated the cream of the 168-pound division en route to winning the Super Six, defended twice more before legal disputes with his promoter and a spate of injuries ended the American’s super middleweight reign. Due to inactivity, THE RING stripped Ward of his title in February 2015 and, like Calzaghe did before him, he moved on to the light heavyweight division upon his return.

The RING title at super middleweight has been vacant ever since, meaning either DeGale or Jack have some pretty big shoes to fill. A gold medalist at Beijing 2008, DeGale, the southpaw, starts a slight favorite but this fight looks the epitome of an even-money matchup.

Jack (20-1-2, 12 knockouts) won his world title with a majority decision over Anthony Dirrell in April 2015, and one month later DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) followed with a unanimous decision over Andre Dirrell to win his. Both have defended their belt on two occasions. Both are almost identical in terms of height and reach. Both are classy boxers with a superb amateur pedigree. DeGale is rated No. 1 by THE RING, while Jack, a Las Vegas-based Swede, is rated No. 2.

 

Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

 

 

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  • Barley mcgrew

    I am really tempted to go with Tom on favouring Jack over DeGale – so close for me. I just don’t see DeGale the clear favourite many others across the sport do – as, indeed, I am far less confident than most are about Frampton defeating the tough Santa Cruz in front of a pro-Leo crowd. The only likely thing is that Frampton-Cruz pans out the far more exciting fight. Probably. Lol.

    • Mark G

      I agree in slightly favouring Jack to win this, especially on home turf. Degale has looked phenomenal at times but just lately he’s been blowing hot and cold. From what I’ve seen of Jack he’s a solid boxer with fast hands and will likely build up an early lead in the fight, it all depends on how Degale responds. A win for Degale on the other hand could set us up for a good year with a kind of British super league forming in the Division. Degale, Smith, Groves and Eubank Jr could all make for some interesting fights. The British Super-Middleweight wars as you described could be back!

      • Ewan Leaper

        Jack sort of reminds me of Adonis Stevenson (although not in a rapey sociopath kind of way) with that one dodgy loss maybe masking how good he is. He’s a question mark but might be pretty good like Stevenson turned out to be.

        • Barley mcgrew

          Ha, I LOVE that first line. Witty as hell.

      • Barley mcgrew

        Great analysis. It could be DeGale lacks the intensity to claw back that likely early Jack lead you speak of – on-off as James tends to be. I sure hope DeGale wins though – for the very reasons you state. Who wouldn’t want to see even a part-repeat of that enthralling-yet-savage period in British boxing history ? (I figure US writes would pay more attention now too. Lol). Kudos mate.
        .

    • mark elding

      The brevity of his reign cannot be overlooked but, such was Roy’s sheer brilliance at 168lb, I think 2 years was enough to convince me that he was THE greatest super middleweight in the division’s history.
      I’ll also give a shout out to Toney who, for a period of time at least, was free from the horrific weight-making shackles that so plagued him at 160lb and was consistently terrific in displays against Barkley, Littles, Thornton and Williams. Not to mention regular non-title bouts against pretty decent fringe contenders, which had the air of high class sparring sessions, but evoked memories of the glory days of Robinson, Duran, Pep etc staying active inbetween more demanding affairs.
      Form lines aren’t everything but I think the efforts of tough Tony Thornton helped illustrate the various levels of the best ’90’s super middles. Pushed a prime Eubank all the way in ’92, was soundly outboxed by Toney the following year, before getting effortlessly blasted out by Jones in ’95. Thornton would have undoubtedly fallen short against Benn, Calzaghe and Ward too, but would have probably given Nigel a decent rumble. Joe and Andre would have been clear winners but, even then, I don’t see the same level of clean technical genius that Jones and Toney put forth.

      • Barley mcgrew

        Sorry Mark, but I couldn’t disagree more on much of the above – much as I have gone on record as stating Roy Jones per se was the finest talent I ever saw throughout many years following the sport.

        However Roy simply didn’t remain at super-middleweight for anywhere near long enough – or beat anywhere near the level of opposition at 168 that the Welshman did in particular (although Ward, too, defeated far more proven 168 pounders in Kessler and Froch) – to be placed on a level with Calzaghe or Jones jr (we are not talking best here – we are talking GREATEST. And then you get things like accomplishment and impact duly brought into the equation).

        I fear I totally disagree with your analysis regarding a still-weight compromised James Toney at 168 – a fighter who stylistically would have matched-up poorly with a Calzaghe who was far faster and far busier (not so much Ward). simply I struggle to understand the importance you place on wins over mediocre, oft-shopworn and/or weight-compromised opposition like Barkley, Williams and Thornton at 168.

        Iran Barkley was not only way past his prime when outclassed by Toney – this is a fighter clearly defeated by Kalambay, outclassed by Nunn and the far smaller Duran and blasted out by the faster-on-the-draw Benn when still fresh some years earlier – but this faded old warhorse was clearly weight-compromised having dropped down from 168 to fight Toney.

        ‘Prince’ Charles Williams, too, was clearly weight-compromised having made that same drop down to 168 to fight Toney (albeit James was weight-compromised himself) – that’s a Williams already comprehensively defeated by Maske and later stopped in quicker time by Merqui Sosa when competing at his career-long weight of light-heavyweight.

        Tim Littles was probably Toney’s best win at super-middleweight – Littles being the only one of Toney’s super-middleweight defences to come against a fighter even remotely in his prime and fighting at his ideal weight. Yet Littles absolutely pales alongside a prime Froch, Kessler or Robin Reid – three career-accomplished (both before and later) 168 pounders who came fresh and in their very primes against the Ward and Calzaghe who defeated them.

        That just leaves the ill-fated ony Thornton. A decent fighter who, – like Iran Barkley and Williams before him (and this is a running theme with the few decent names Toney faced at super-middleweight) was nothing more than a faded, old, oft-defeated fighter who had already lost to DeWitt, Collins, Eubank (and several others I can’t recall) when going down to Toney in the dying embers of a non-too spectacular career (you know as well as I do how Eubank could be a beast in the ones that really matter – yet could be equally average and distracted when less than motivated as he was against Thornton. That was the erratic Eubank all over).

        These were not great victories, Mark. And – with the possible exception of the Littles win – they were not even particularly good ones. Try my ‘Kessler test’ – for the prime Dane of the Calzaghe and Ward losses would have chewed up the Toney versions of Barkley, Williams and Littles for fun (or ANY version of those three). Indeed, as with a Calzaghe who would have been too fast and too industrious for the 168 Toney – the prime Kessler would have defeated a super-middleweight Toney too.

        And ditto the Robin Reid of the Calzaghe fight – a far fresher super-middleweight who would have knocked around the Thornton, Williams and Littles that Toney fought with room to spare (Incidentally, defeating fringe-contenders in non-title bouts is only relevant in as far as such fights helped in keeping the weight-compromised, pathologically-lazy Toney out of the kitchen and in decent shape. Nothing more).

        Finally, sorry Mark – but you’re analogy of a decreasingly relevant Tony Thornton defining the levels of the super-middleweights of the 90’s is – with all due respect – a horrendously poor one. And for ALL the reasons above. But I will give you a far better name who does indeed define the various levels of super-middleweights in the 90’s – our own Nigel Benn.

        For it was Benn’s brilliant 5-fight winning run in the states between 89 and 90 – that’s wins over tough trialhorses Amparo and Quinones, a spectacular stoppage of the rock-chinned DeWitt who had defeated a far fresher Thornton than Toney, a superb display of boxing in outpointing the Sanderline Williams who straight after twice went on to give Toney himself more trouble (Draw and MD for Toney – SD for Benn OVERSEAS) and that 1st round blow-out of a home-advantaged, far fresher, no more weight-weakened Barkley than the fighter later halted by Toney – that REALLY defined so many of those British middleweight/super-middleweight greats who followed soon after.

        As. indeed, did a faded Benn step in many years later to shock the sport’s new superstar Gerald McClellan. Yet again lending huge ballast to the bonafide international pedigree of those British greats Nigel rarely got past in stirring battles (Watson, Eubank) – even as he chewed up the best America could throw at him in spectacular fashion.

        Steve Collins, too, lend great weight to the brilliance of those British super-middleweights by going so well against various elite middleweights and super-middleweights earlier in his career in the US – when not remotely the polished item he was when later competing over here and in front of raucous Irish home crowds (Eubank had him OUT in their first fight – then ‘weird’ Chris let him survive to win).

        That brilliant Eubank TKO 9 win over a red-hot, rampaging, newly-arrived back from the US Benn – a far superior performance (though not EVENT) to the ever-lauded Hopkins TKO12 Trinidad incidentally – was the fight that truly defined the world-class pedigree of both Eubank and the Calzaghe who followed him (and Benn TKO 10 McClellan further proved that still).

        As, indeed, did Joe Calzaghe, overseas, below par on the night – and fighting at a new weight when far the older ‘fighter’ (not man) – define that British excellence all over again when defeating the best B-Hop that ever existed (think about it: All of B-Hop’s finest wins against fighters his own size – the Tarver and Pavlik shut-outs and the superb Pascal win in Quebec – lie clustered around B-Hop’s loss to Calzaghe. That says everything).

        It is the performances of Benn and Calzaghe in America – alongside Benn’s brilliant win over McClellan and Calzaghe’s superb wins over Kessler and the then-hot Lacy (Calzaghe ruined him) tat define the level of those British super-middleweight greats – and certainly NOT a half-decent, moderately-accomplished, way-past-his-prime mere contender like the late Tony Thornton.

        Don’t get me wrong, Mark – I rate Roy and James as highly as you do (Toney nearly as highly). Yet – and with all due respect – you are confusing being the BEST fighter with being the greatest (most accomplished and proven) at a particular given weight.

        Roy Jones was the finest talent I ever saw. But his accomplishments at 168 leave him well down on Calzaghe – and a short head behind Ward – in that division.

        As for Toney (who largely defines Roy at 168) – he proved better the higher in weight he climbed when faster, busier 160/168 were duly replaced by larger men who played to his strengths when attempting to walk him down/overwhelm him. But a proven, accomplished super-middleweight of the calibre of Joe Calzaghe – or the Ward who proved untouchable against superior fighters to Barkley, Williams and Littles at 168 – James was not. Sorry.
        .

        • left hook

          Well thought out response, but just for the sake of discussion, Charles Williams was in top shape and had his CAREER beaten out of him by Toney. He was a shell of himself vs Sosa. I think that was Toney’s biggest win. I also have issues with giving full credit to Benn for ‘beating’ McClellan. A headbutt somewhere after the first-round beat down caused the brain damage to McClellan. It was obvious to me from the way he wasn’t ‘himself’. Benn showed heart, but it was literally his head that won the fight. It reminded me of watching Randy Carver get killed by those damn headbutts of Kabary Salem. Carver was so much better but his body couldn’t respond due to the damage to his brain. That is another reason I detest ward and Hopkins and salem and soliman. Head butts are far more dangerous than the padded gloves that are meant to be the only object being used on the opponent.

          • Barley mcgrew

            I would respectfully say there is no way Charles Williams was remotely in top shape for the Toney contest – due to the fact this career-long light-heavyweight was fighting down at 168 for the only time in his entire career. Weight-compromised he was – regardless of how hard he had trained.

            ‘Prince’ was indeed a shell of his old self for the Sosa contest. Yet that’s down to the point Williams was at in his career anyway – and it also points to the folly of dropping seven pounds to a unnatural weight to engage a world-class fighter like James Toney (who did put a beating on him). No surprise he got stopped late.

            On that Benn-McClellan contest (and Benn was someway past his prime against a peak McClellan), I would venture that in getting back into the ring after that ferocious first round shellacking from the savagely-powerful McClellan (note to B-Hop quitting v Smith) – then standing toe-to-toe through several of the most brutally fought rounds in boxing history before climbing up off the canvas a second time – Nigel Benn deserves as much credit as any who went before him in boxing history.

            Few middleweights/super-middleweights in history could wage war that tough and come through to win (My old mate B-Hop not close to being one of them). Saying Benn ‘showed heart’ – with all due respect – is like saying a Britain stood alone and under siege from Nazi Germany/those boys at the Alamo holding out against Santa Maria was a case of ‘sticking around for a bit’

            However, I completely agree on THAT headbut, accidental as it was, turning this most savage of contests in Benn’s favour (likely 50/50 otherwise) – a headbutt that heavily contributed to McClellan’s ultimate fate (good points on Karbary-Carver).

            Yet in a fight as savage as Benn-McClellan all sorts of terrible things can happen.

            .

          • left hook

            Toney was in some wars, wasn’t he? That Williams beatdown was savage, and that mad win over Jirov was another thing of beauty. It totally shows me why Tiberi didn’t rematch Toney to prove he was better after the robbery in the first bout. I am a Benn fan, and he deserved to be in the ring with McClellan, and he did what he had to do to survive. I just know that after the head butt that McClellan was not ‘right’, and if you are compromised against a good fighter like Benn you are in trouble. As with Carver, his body was going through the motions but it was in a state of decline with moment that passed after the butt. BTW..Benn-Dewitt one of my all-time fave fights. Dark Destroyer was must-see TV.

          • Barley mcgrew

            Just lost that last post ‘Deleted as spam’, Left Hook – but I figure you still saw it. Just to repeat – I agree with all the above. Kudos.

          • left hook

            I read it…good stuff. Nice to be in a ‘grown-up’ discussion that doesn’t use PPV sales to determine your ability or worthiness as a fighter, that ignores the fact that referees are the determining factor in the outcome of a fight, and that doesn’t use the word ‘hugger’ if there is disagreement. Nice.

          • Barley mcgrew

            Now you can vouch how posts do get lost ‘Deleted as spam’ – for I had no reason to delete that one. Lol. And good words too.

            This internet thing (and I only started using it about 5 or 6 years ago astonishingly – old school) does seem to bring out the worst in so many – who do become rather juvenile once they don’t have to face others and deal with the consequences from those they insult. Kudos bro.
            .

          • left hook

            Keyboard warriors… BTW..it is probably the use of the word ‘hopkins’ that turns your post into spam! you cannot go around denigrating legends!

          • Barley mcgrew

            Lol. I reckon I’m done posting on B-Hop – old fella needs a rest.

          • Barley mcgrew

            Lol. I reckon I’m done posting on B-Hop – old fella needs a rest.

          • mark elding

            Few can match the detail of your considered responses Barley so I won’t even try lol. I do think you are sometimes prone to overstating the worth of some of our fellow Brits however, to the point where it almost becomes a case of double standards.
            Take Robin Reid for example. Whilst acknowledging that the developing James Toney could only manage a draw with fringe contender Sanderline Williams first time of asking, Reid only managed the same with 0,1 Danny Juma! A little earlier on in Reid’s career than Toney’s draw but then, the American was not an Olympic medallist.
            Vincenzo Nardiello was the epitome of a highly tempermental, hot and cold performer and, whilst ripping the Italian’s title away on his home soil is hugely impressive on paper for Reid, the reality is that Nardiello really capitulated, mentally and physically, rather easily. I don’t think it compares to many, many other great overseas victories by UK fighters.
            The ordinary Giovanni Pretorius was a real struggle for Reid before a far more impressive defense against Henry Wharton, a slugger whose clear limitations would have made a number of decent, world rated super middles look like Sugar Ray Robinson.
            Robin was woeful in losing his 168lb belt to the ageing Malinga before, admittedly, bouncing back with an inspired, barely losing effort v Calzaghe. Joe did, reportedly, enter the bout with a hand injury, which showed in my opinion.
            Other than a disgraceful robbery against Sven Ottke years later (I KNOW we both agree on the protected German’s true worth) that was really it for Reid’s career. A fine one but, in comparison to many other top fighters of his era, nothing that special really. Good chin, solid power, quite mechanical, not particularly diverse. I don’t think he can be really held up as a shining example of the excellent competition Calzaghe faced, which was mostly disappointing in my view, between his coming out party v Eubank and the slaughtering of Lacy some 9 years later.
            And again, I only offer this critique because I feel it’s only your over-reaching defense of British fighters that occasionally sullies your otherwise impeccable knowledge and writing that, I repeat, few could ever hope to match.

          • philoe bedoe

            Personally I think Calzaghe was lucky to get the nod against Reid.
            Reid matched Calzaghe for workrate and landed the cleaner better punches………

          • Barley mcgrew

            I agree. Calzaghe probably was. Although Joe did fight with an injured hand – a part excuse.

          • Barley mcgrew

            I really don’t want to keep disagreeing with you, Mark – but I fear you do an injustice. I have never once sought to intimate Joe Calzaghe was a better fighter or more accomplished than Jones or Toney per se – ONLY that he fought better opposition/accomplished more at 168. On that I was clear.

            All I would say on Reid was he was a very strong, natural 168 pounder in his prime when he fought Calzaghe, he also won a world title in the ever tough to win in Italy by stoppage just 10 fights into his pro career (by far outperforming Hopkins in Quito and B-Hop quality victim Keith Holmes against Cherifi in paris).

            You say Nardiello was the ‘epitome of a hot and cold performer’. Yet the Italian was at least as good as the Mercado who twice dropped/drew with a considerably more experienced Hopkins – and probably as good as a Cherifi who turned back Holmes in an easier-to-win-in Paris when the American was far more experienced than Reid against Nardiello.

            Hence, the ‘name’ of Robin Reid – and lest we forget Reid also outboxed a Sven Ottke no further past his prime than Robin was – lends someway more gravitas on Calzaghe’s resume than do those of Iran Barkley (badly faded/weight-compromised). Tony Thornton (past his prime/never as good as Reid) and Littles (never as god as Reid).

            Only the ‘name’ of ‘Prince’ Charles Williams tops Reid’s name , just – despite that decent champion being a weight-weakened 175 pounder dropping to super-middleweight for the only time in his career. Yet the far better ‘name’ of a prime Kessler then duly blows Williams out of the water (Calzaghe did indeed lack for truly great names in their prime – but the ‘Kessler test’ proves so too did the vastly more lauded Hopkins – not that that’s the issue here).

            This isn’t about Robin Reid being a special fighter. But it IS about a fully-fledged, proven 168 pound champion Reid in his prime being someway more EFFECTIVE a ‘name’ than the faded and/or smaller names we often find endlessly lauded on the bloated records of nefarious US legends consistently given favourable press to the oft-maligned Calzaghe. And at 168 – both Toney (especially) and Jones are among them.

            We agree on far more than we disagree, Mark – and much you opine on I find myself in full agreement with. Yet you of all fans should be shrewd enough to see all II have ever done on this website is to attempt to put the records of certain British champions in a more realistic context when evaluated alongside those of their oft-similarly accomplished American counterparts who invariably receive more hype. Nothing more (hence why B-Hop’s name comes up again and again and again. Kudos bro.
            .

          • mark elding

            It’s all good Barley. I probably concur with your thoughts and opinions on boxing more than 99.9% of the other commenters that frequent this site, of which there are many, many excellent ones. You were certainly the first to articulate my own long held sentiments about Mr Hopkins, but what fun would it be if we agree on EVERYTHING?

          • Barley mcgrew

            Thanks for the kind words, Mark – although a good few on here have made me question things every now and then (yourself on Marciano for starters). Yet I should be a tad more flexible at times (I tend to write from the heart – often no quarter given. Not always the best policy). We both state our case eruditely – but do so in a respectful manner. That’s all that matters to me. I wish certain others would – yet this IS the internet. Lol. Kudos mate.

            * I have REALLY revised my opinion on Marciano BTW.
            .

          • mark elding

            I was hopeful for the quick reply Barley, and glad I got it.
            In fairness, most of the commenters on this site that I used to find really quite offensive have long gone, and seem to have been replaced, thankfully, by some really wise, passionate fans.
            I know you have had some run-ins on occasions, but I sincerely hope you don’t ever feel the need to permanently abandon these pages, because it is comments such as yours (perhaps more than the lead articles themselves sometimes) that keep me coming back. In fact, with far less time available to actually watch boxing these days (I only just watched Frampton v Santa Cruz for the first time yesterday! – long gone are the days when I failed 3 A levels as a direct result of watching 5 hours of quality boxing every single day lol), I do often rely on a variety of reputable opinions, none more valid than your own.

          • Barley mcgrew

            You are lucky you did, mate – because I spilt tea over a £800 PC (ruining it) and left my smartphone over a mate’s house (only just been able to get it back today). Hence I was offline for several days immediately after posting you (damn Friday 13th and all).

            And no worries mate. Always good between us – as with many others on this site. Disagreement is the spice of life after all (Incidentally, I refused to go back into school to take any of my O’ Levels – having got in with a really exciting but dodgy family on moving address right as I was due to sit them at 16. And I got kicked out of home permanently for it – so I never even got round to A Levels! You’re an OG boxing fan right back to childhood as I am Mark.

            Damned addictive that this sport can be. Kudos mate.
            .

    • philoe bedoe

      I’ve said it before, Degale will to be at his best to beat Jack…………..

      • Barley mcgrew

        Totally agree mate. And you have indeed.

    • philoe bedoe

      Who think would have won?
      Calzaghe vs Ward……..

      • Barley mcgrew

        To be fair, I am surely biased on any Calzaghe-Ward contest. For not only is Joe Calzaghe a fellow Brit – but I really don’t like watching Ward and his oft-dirty, negative style. That said, a Calzaghe-Ward contest would come down to whether Ward could find the space to land his shots between the hugely off-putting, super-fast flurries that the Welshman kept opponents occupied with.

        Charles Brewer once said “I hate fighting Joe Calzaghe. Those damn endless flurries leave you too busy defending them to ever really get started doing what YOU do best. You never really get started – then the fight is over”.

        It would also depend on whether we saw the usual, aggressive, front-foot Joe – or more the counterpunching, angle-giving Calzaghe of the Lacy contest (where Calzaghe’s superior handspeed would make it harder for Ward to tie-up, hold and frustrate the Welshman).

        The fact Calzaghe is far more proven away from home (US and Germany and hardly the crowd favourite in several key fights against fellow Brits) would also factor – I think I would favour Ward in Oakland with a Ward-tolerant referee.

        Close thing though. Two great – if far from rightly respected – champions. And just my take.
        .

        • philoe bedoe

          I agree being a fellow Brit and more of a fan of Calzghe’s style, will sway someone’s judgement.
          And like you say, Calzaghe’s wins abroad carries a lot of weight.
          I gotta go with my head and would take Ward to outpoint Calzaghe.
          Ward being a more slicker, faster, and busier version of Hopkins………..

          • Barley mcgrew

            Although much of B-Hop’s relative success against a Calzaghe he still lost to was down to a below-par performance from the Welsh fighter under the intense spotlight of the US media (ala a reckless Hamed on his US debut).

            And it was also due to B-Hop being indulged all the holding tactics by the biased Cortez (denied Hatton the same tactics v Mayweather) that Ward, too, would both need and likely be overly-indulged with in both Vegas or Oakland.

            But you may well be right, Philoe. Real close thing IMO.
            .

          • philoe bedoe

            100% right on the Cortez refereeing.
            And a close fight it would have been.
            Joe did seem to struggle with negative boxers, and Ward is one of the best at winning negatively…………

          • Barley mcgrew

            Good point there. Calzaghe may well have been better served by standing off Ward – as when he changed it up against Lacy – forcing Ward to come on to him.

            Real tough one for both fighters – and a contest where home advantage for either could well make all the difference where fighting away means being more positive. Hence the home-loving Ward very likely triumphs (I wonder if Ward would have defeated Froch in the UK when prevented from holding and forced to fight positively ?).
            .

          • philoe bedoe

            It certainly would of helped Froch to have home advantage and strong no nonsense ref.
            But I just think Ward was just to good and had the right offensive attributes to beat him.
            Fast, accurate, technically excellent puncher, from an orthodox stance, that’s what usually gave Froch trouble.
            He had a good record against southpaws, Ward never switched during that fight if I recall right…….

          • Barley mcgrew

            Probably right, mate. Too good all round for Carl in reality.

      • left hook

        Ward in vegas or Oakland, no matter what Joe did…

        • philoe bedoe

          I agree lol…….

        • Barley mcgrew

          Lol. Touche. I reckon that’s the only places this one would ever be going down.

    • Guy Grundy

      I can only echo your sentiments about Calzaghe.A great boxer.His display against the much hyped Lacey was one of the finest displays of boxing I’ve ever witnessed.Indeed I’m struggling to think of another fight (against an opponent who was supposedly at their peak) where one fighter was so exposed and dominated it effectively ended their career…

      As to the Jack v DeGale fight…I think it all depends on which DeGale turns up on the night.

      • Barley mcgrew

        So true mate. If American that Calzaghe so brilliantly ruined ( feel awkward putting it like that) a dominant, undefeated champion would have been rightly recognised.

        Yet all the-then Calzaghe-loathing US media could do was totally downplay the worth of a fighter they were calling the ‘New Tyson’ and the ‘Saviour of boxing’ before the Calzaghe contest – a so disrespectful to Calzaghe attitude that saw the late, great Budd Schulberg slating his US colleagues over.

        Ditto your comment on DeGale-Jack. More DeGale’s contest to lose on the night – but one he quite possibly will do. Here’s hoping not. Kudos.
        .

        • Ewan Leaper

          Curious on your view of Lacy, as brilliant as Calzaghe was in that fight(punch perfect a la Mayweather vs Gatti) I think he gets undue credit for a win over the image of what people thought Lacy was rather than what he ever prove himself to be- lots of people say Calzaghe “ruined” Lacy and there’s no doubt that whupping would have played hell with his confidence but can we from a retrospective viewpoint elevate Lacy to a greater status than he deserves?

          I’m a harsh critic, out of the current crop of elite fighters I count only Pacquiao, Gonzalez, Ward and Kovalev as being tested against really excellent opponents. Guys who are anointed to super-duperstar status by a lot of people, such as Golovkin, Alvarez, Crawford, Lomachenko and Rigondeaux, for me all fall into a category of they need to fight more elite opponents before they prove how good I think they might be (or might not be…). Lacy had similar hype pre-Calzaghe but the best opponent he’d faced was the legendary Vitaliy Tsypko- compared to Golovkin against the likes of Matt Macklin and Martin Murray or Alvarez against Erislandy Lara then I genuinely believe Lacy had really proved very little other than that people are mightily impressed by washboard abs, he’d barely scratched decent contender level.

          • Barley mcgrew

            I never rated Lacy either, Ewan. Indeed, I voiced concerns at the time on how Lacy the ‘puncher’ (and that’s the ONLY strength writers thought he had) had taken twice as long as 154 pounder Vargas to dispose of Ross Thompson. And ‘Left hook’ Lacy had also been taken the full 12 by a Sheika who Joe had punched to a standstill in five.

            The saviour of boxing’ (a rather insulting dig against oft-exciting Europeans who increasingly dominated boxing north of 160) was a product of hopeful US media hype. I so agree (as was ‘The New Monzon – ‘Ring’ front page – Kelly Pavlik).

            No, my point on Lacy – and on the way this ‘brilliant’ American puncher of vivid US media hyperbole was instantly downgraded to ‘bum’ (he was never that bad either) after the Calzaghe beating – was more on how such equivalent decent-but-none-too-special names defeated by nefarious long-reigning American champions are later buffed and polished up as potential future excellence ‘ruined’ by the ‘brilliance’ of those US champions.

            Similar to how many will cheekily bring up the name of a certain Tucker Podwill on Calzaghe’s record – disingenuously reaching for the lowest common denominator on the Welshman’s resume when defining his overall record .

            Yet those same writers fans would never ever be caught using Willie Bo James (B-Hop) or Peter McNeely to define the records/accomplishments of a Tyson at heavyweight or a Hopkins at middleweight.

            I agree on Lacy, Ewan. It’s just that Joe didn’t need Lacy to define his brilliance. ThAT Hopkins win overseas (that’s the best ever B-Hop. Stronger at 175 – and with his finest wins – Tarver, Pavlik, Wright and Pascal in Quebec clustered around it), the prime Kessler and Reid wins – AND the win over a non-weight-drained Eubank who later went on to give Thompson hell at 190 – more than proving Joe’s greatness. Kudos mate.
            .

          • Ewan Leaper

            Cheers for that mate, good points in there. I loved hearing Calzaghe’s take on the ageing Eubank, not the best guy he fought but by far and away his toughest fight. I’d love to have seen what Calzaghe would have achieved had it not been for those fragile hands, the “slappy” reputation overshadows the fact that he was actually a pretty big puncher before they started breaking on him.

            The defining moment for me in his entire career that I think says more about him than anything else was in the Byron Mitchell fight, Mitchell had pretty much knocked him out for about 4 seconds of the 10 count and then you see him have a little shake of the head and a look of “You’re going to pay for that you bastard!” come over his face before stopping Mitchell not long after. Doesn’t matter who you’re up against, if you can come back like that then there’s something rare in you that even some of the very best fighters we’ve seen haven’t had. Possibly psycopathy, haha!

    • bradman

      These are my favorite kind of match ups: two belt holders at similar stages of their careers willing to face each other, not only unify those belts but to really try to prove to the boxing world who the better fighter is and basically daring to be great. It’s a refreshing change from the usual suspects who claim they want to unify and claim how they’d beat this guy and that guy and then feast on no-hopers and re-treads again and again. Kudos to both. My money is on Jack to squeak through with a tight points win. DeGale reminds me a little bit of Zab Judah. An immense talent who has a bad habit of getting distracted and/or bored mid fight. Honestly how does that happen. He can get away with it now but eventually, just like with Zab, it will come around to bite him in the ass.

      • Barley mcgrew

        I think I agree mate (coming round to Jack edging it the more fans say it). And it is refreshing to see two champions in their primes squaring off (both away from home on neutral territory as well). I see your point on DeGale being rather like Judah in that he can be rather on-off at the best of times – something that may well cost him against the better consistency/workrate of the ever-improving DeGale (I thought Groves would defeat Jack- yet he proved me wrong in that one. Kudos bro.

      • philoe bedoe

        That is just Degale’s nature, inside and outside of the ring.
        He’s admitted that in interviews……..

    • left hook

      Fighters make fights. Eubank, Watson, Collins, Benn were fighters. Bad blood too. That is always a nice touch. I am not sure that jack-degale will deliver. Although they are both talented, I don’t believe either to be a special talent, and neither fight with intent to beat their opponent into submission. They both seem to fight in a ‘take what you give me’ mentality, rather than a ‘ I will take what I want’ mindset. Methinks this leads to a nondescript W12 for…Degale. Jack won’t get credit for his body punches.

      • Barley mcgrew

        Good points. You indeed don’t sense the bad blood or intensity between Jack and DeGale that those aforementioned super-middleweights had for each other. I think you’re right in that prediction – but a fan can hope. Lol.

  • Stephen M

    This fight is for the Ring title, I should be excited. But I’m not. Let’s hope that they prove me wrong.

    • Robert Archambault

      As long as someone like Canelo is holding a RING title in a division he never really fought at, ALL the RING titles are meaningless to me. I wonder how long it took for them to consider the SMW title to be vacant once Calzaghe moved up to LHW? Did they wait for him to win a title at the new weight and then to declare he was not a SMW and set up a fight at yet another different weight limit and STILL allow him to retain his title? Because they have done all of that with Canelo and still not declared the MW title vacant. I guess that’s why the RING belt is made like an elastic waistband, so that it can stretch itself around the rules.

  • Floridastorm

    Turn to You Tube for two fights that happened years ago. Iran Barkley against Thomas Hearns at 168. In the first fight Barkley KO’d Hearns. In the 2nd fight it went the full 12 with Barkley winning a one point split decision, although I had Barkley winning a unanimous decision. If you can, with a straight face, tell me that any middle or super middle today would be still there in 12, after going up against either one of these fighters, then I would think you may be daffy. I have never seen such a war between two highly skilled and powerful punchers as these two. Talk about conditioning.

    • Barley mcgrew

      Try Benn-McClellan. Far more savage – and one where at least one of the participants was still in his prime (Tommy completely outclassed Barkley first time around – before getting careless against an all-but defeated fighter. Iran got closer second time around because Hearns was older and slower – even though it was the naturally/always slower Barkley’s last hurrah in world-class too).

      I would also say Tommy Hearns lacked the speed of punch above 160 that he once possessed between 147-middleweight. Something that would have left Hearns terribly vulnerable against fast, powerful punchers like the Benn or McClellan of that far more brutal war (looked great against a strong, ponderous type like Andries).

      I do agree no middleweight or super-middleweight today (including a GGG much smaller than Hearns or Barkley) would have survived against the Barkley or Hearns of that 175 classic – far less have survived against the hellaciously-possessed Nigel Benn of the McClellan fight. Kudos.
      .

      • philoe bedoe

        The Benn v McClellan fight was still the best fight I’ve seen unfold live on telly………..

      • Floridastorm

        Yes, Benn/McClellan was a classic. Still don’t know why McClellan just gave up. He kind of fell down to the canvas and, although not hurt, never got up at 10. Benn was a powerful puncher, not so much on skill. McClellan was known for his hard body punches, which he did not seem to use effectively in this fight. Also, don’t know why they did not have a return match. Benn was McClellan’s last fight. Just before fighting Benn McClellan knocked out the hardest puncher to ever live, including Tyson, Julian Jackson. Maybe Benn convinced him to hang it up.

        • Barley mcgrew

          ‘Left Hook’ made an excellent point about that accidental Benn headbut causing real damage on a McClellan already the worse for wear due to the savage nature of the contest – liking it to the Kabary Salem-Randy Carver tragedy. And McClellan did start blinking frequently after that clash of heads – the hematoma likely already causing the pressure to build inside his head (McClellan was left nearly 90% deaf, blind and mute after the fight – no return possible). Agree on Jackson being possibly the hardest one- shot KO puncher in boxing history. Jackson KO4 the brilliant Graham – ouch!. Kudos.