Monday, November 5, 2007


Boxing is, after all, a martial art, and two great martial artists fought Saturday night. Since they were Europeans, it was free on HBO, instead of being a $50 PPV event.

Joe Calzaghe of Wales, on the right in the photo (with the cross tatoo), taken just after the final bell, convincingly won despite an excellent fight by Dane Mikkel Kessler, on the left. Kessler was younger and stronger, and in the fourth round he stunned Calzaghe with a couple of uppercuts. But Calzaghe, who threw more than 1,000 punches in the fight, wore Kessler down, proved too "awkward" (a good thing in boxing, meaning your opponent has a hard time dealing with your movement), and clearly won, getting a unanimous decision. He hurt Kessler with a body hook late in the fight, but otherwise won because he just swarmed him.

An excellent post in Bad Left Hook points out that Calzaghe, among many other things, used his clinches to disrupt Kessler's rhythm. It wasn't disruptive to the enjoyment of the fight--he wasn't hanging on for dear life or anything--but it was an intelligent use of one of the boxer's weapons. He also was superbly conditioned, though Kessler was no slouch in that department either.

One thing to note about Calzaghe is that, at 35, almost 36, he's an honorary middle-aged boxer, even if not technically so (most references seem to place the start of middle age at 40, though the U.S. Census says 35). Kessler's youth, at 28, was thought by some to be an advantage, but in this match, to refashion a cliche, age and skill beat youth and strength.

1 comment:

John Vesia said...

It's true, "awkward" in boxing usually means that no matter who you're fighting they'll look bad. Jake LaMotta and Archie Moore were famous awkward boxers.

I think most martial artists, mainly karate people, could learn a lot from boxing: the in-fighting, clinching, the ability to take a shot. But unlike boxing, you don't have to be washed up when you're 30 in karate. Come to think of it though, Archie Moore was fighting until he was in his fifties (and reasonably well at that). Boxers, especially the really good ones, have a hard time walking away from the ring.