We have the best fighter in his weight class going up against a man that gained notoriety from a reality show. No, it isn’t UFC 69. Joe Calzaghe takes on Peter Manfredo Jr in his 20th consecutive title defense.
Amir Khan vs. Steffy Bull
This is Khan’s introduction to the American audience in what is likely the first of many HBO appearances. That is, as long as he can defeat Bull. Khan was a member of Great Britain’s 2004 Olympic boxing team and received a silver medal in the lightweight division. He’s been boxing professionally for less than two years and will be on his biggest stage since the Olympic games in Athens.
Khan shows his superior hand speed in the first round as Bull shows a major unwillingness to fight. Bull stated he wanted to be the counter puncher in the fight but that usually entails punching. Khan is in and out and Bull is doing little about it. Khan is just 20 years-old yet showing a good deal of maturity and patience in this fight given that Bull is not engaging. Bull landed three of seven punches in the second round. Totally embarrassing. Khan unloads on Bull in the third round as Bull is caught on the ropes and eventually takes a knee. Bull takes ten seconds to think about his night and decides to call it quits. Amir Khan gets the third round TKO.
Joe Calzaghe vs. Peter Manfredo Jr
As mentioned earlier, this is Calzaghe’s 20th Super Middleweight title defense over almost ten years. His dominant win over Jeff Lacy put Calzaghe on the short list of best fighters in the world. Manfredo Jr was a runner-up on The Contender and many believe he defeated Sergio Mora in their rematch, although Mora received the split decision.
In a funny pre-fight moment, Manfredo was looking for an American flag to salute during the anthem but couldn’t find one. Good thing he put the Stars and Stripes on his shorts. He saluted his pants and the crowd booed when it was over. Maybe the South Park guys were on to something in their â€˜24′ inspired episode.
Good action in the first round but Manfredo is going to have to do much more to win rounds against the champion in his hometown. I thought Sugar Ray Leonard was training Manfredo but he has been labeled as his advisor. Manfredo’s father is leading him in the corner. Manfredo is showing good movement but is leaving his hands down allowing Calzaghe to connect on jabs.
Calzaghe gets Manfredo on the ropes and pummels him but Manfredo escapes, only to get caught in a tough spot again. Calzaghe is going nuts now, almost treating Manfredo like a speed bag. The ref comes in and stops the fight. As many punches as Calzaghe was throwing, few were landing and Manfredo never looked hurt. The stoppage was way too early but Manfredo wasn’t showing anything to make the ref believe he was still in the fight. Manfredo’s only shot would have been to wear Calzaghe down by getting him to punch himself out but obviously the referee wasn’t going to let that happen. Calzaghe gets the second third round TKO of the show.
Now the Calzaghe-Mikkel Kessler talks begin. Kessler is an undefeated Super Middleweight champion and the only man left for Calzaghe to face in the division. The problem is that Calzaghe may not want to stay at 168. Calzaghe has already mentioned names like Jermain Taylor and Bernard Hopkins for his future. In the post-fight interview, Calzaghe said the Kessler folks rejected a summer fight offer and that Kessler is nothing more than today’s Jeff Lacy. Hopefully, Kessler and Calzaghe can strike a deal to fight before Calzaghe moves on to fight America’s finest.