James Lawton: Jones evoking forces of change to deliver one final landslide

Fading legend draws inspiration from Obama in plotting upset for Calzaghe
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The Independent Online

Not for the first time Enzo Calzaghe, father of Joe, seemed a little confused. He did not seem too sure about quite what he was doing, hyping his son's fight here at Madison Square Garden with the previously superannuated megastar Roy Jones or auditioning for the Jonathan Ross show.

However, Jones, one of whose passions has been the training of fighting birds, has never been known to be squeamish and he smiled throughout Calzaghe Snr's onslaught of expletives. His only hint of a frown came at the suggestion that on Saturday he is certain to suffer from a comprehensive "arse-kicking". A man who has won eight separate world titles, and for much of his career was regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the business, was rankled naturally by the implication that his right to share to share the ring with the unbeaten Calzaghe had slid away in the mists of time.

Jones, who beat another great victim of anno domini, Felix Trinidad, in January this year, promptly dismissed the theory that when he watched Calzaghe beat Bernard Hopkins on a split decision, after being knocked down in the first round, in Las Vegas in the spring, he saw the chance of a major financial coup and retirement plan rather than the chance to put up the gloves in a state of glory.

He agreed that the unbeaten Calzaghe, three years his junior at 36, had an outstanding record that justified some claims that he was one of his successors to the mythic title of pound-for-pound supremacy and that he punched so well that, "I've been ducking and diving in my sleep."

But he also argued that great fighters can sometimes mislay one great performance and that he was going to find it on Saturday night. "I never worked so hard for a fight and I've never felt so inspired. That happened last night when I watched Barack Obama become president. He made me proud to be an American again – and think that there can be change in everything, including boxing."

This provoked more outrage in the heart of Enzo Calzaghe.

"Believe, me there will be no change here," he said. "This has been a long road for Joe and he's had 20 years of me being a pain in the arse. But he has always known what he has wanted. In recent years it has been to fight in America, in places like Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden, and finally to go out beating a great fighter. Yes, Roy Jones has been a great fighter, he might even be a great fighter again, but not great enough to beat Joe Calzaghe."

All this debate in the basement of BB King's Blues Club and Grill in Times Square was buoyed by a large media turn-out and the implication that the Garden will accept the premise that these two ageing fighters have promoted something more than a huge pay-off at a time when their best days are over, certainly in the case of Jones.

Can it be a great fight, this one produced by two fighters who did all of their own crucial negotiating and sealed the deal with nothing more legally binding than a text message?

Calzaghe insists that it can, saying, "Maybe we should have fought earlier, but boxing is a business and these things sometimes don't work out. But I've always admired his talent and always wanted to fight him and for me this is the change to leave boxing with an undefeated record and great scalp on my belt.

"Roy Jones is a proud man and its obvious to me that he will bring that pride into the ring. You can see he has worked hard for this fight."

Jones's trainer Alton Merkerson swears that if Calzaghe wins he can fairly claim a defining victory.

"This has been a long, very hard and strenuous road, made longer by the postponement when Joe picked up an injury, but we've had a small but very productive training camp. Roy's readier than he's ever been and we know that Joe has come to fight, so it means we have a real fight, a great fight.

"We accept that at this moment Joe is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and if he beats Roy he will be able to say he beat the real man."

For Enzo Calzaghe such niceties of fight history, and all its complexities, were somewhat lost from sight. There was, after a little editing, just one more declarative statement. It was, again, that a serious "kicking" was about to be delivered.

From Joe there was a somewhat weary reaction to his father's latest burst of eloquence. "I'm a person," he said, "who believes in acts rather than words, but I believe I can say that you are not going to see a good fight but a great one." It's the kind of thing promoters always say. This, however, was the first one obliged to prove it in the ring. Maybe Roy Jones is right. Maybe even boxing is about to see at least a small gust of change.

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