Thursday, April 5, 2007

The "Pride of Providence"

Before I rip into and dissect this upcoming fight (this Saturday night -- Peter Manfredo vs. Joe Calzaghe -- free viewing on HBO at both 5 PM and 10 PM), let me preface what I'm about to say by making it known that I am one of Peter Manfredo's biggest supporters. I absolutely love everything Rhode Island -- Manfredo, Rocco Baldelli, Cuttino Mobley, Herb Hill, Ryan Gomes, the list goes-on-and-on (OK, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but you catch my drift).

With all that said, this fight is going to be over very quickly. Quite honestly, Manfredo would be better matched as Calzaghe's sparring partner than his fighting foe. Calzaghe is one of the top 5 overall fighters in the world, any weight class - the southpaw sports a current record of 42-0, 31 KO's. Simply put, he is an absolute beast! Calzaghe is coming off a defining defeat (last March) of the formerly renowned Jeff Lacy, in which he clearly demonstrated his utter dominance.

Yeah, can say all you want about how Manfredo is more comfortable at 168 lbs. and how Freddie Roach has transformed Manfredo's career. You are right, as both of the aforementioned decisions have immensely benefited Manfredo - I've been fortunate enough to witness his progression live at the jam-packed Dunkin Donut Center. Along with Manfredo's fame via 'The Contender', his sound defeats of Scott Pemberton and Joey Spina (both glorified stiffs) have positioned Manfredo for this fight - in Wales (Calzaghe's homeland).

For Manfredo's sake, I hope this fight landed him a large payday - because he may not walk to see another day. The current oddmakers have this bout at 12-to-1 odds (I've seen some bookmakers slate the odds at 50-to-1), in favor of Calzaghe. Truth be told, the odds should be closer to 100-to-1. Again, I repeat that this fight is stationed in Calzaghe's backyard. As Calzaghe recently said, "I have been through the years of frustration of not being given the big fights and not really getting the credit and respect by a lot of people. Now, I am fighting in front of big worldwide audiences and getting that recognition. If you can't get motivated to fight in front of 35,000 people, there is something wrong with you."

In turn, Manfredo recently stated, "I have not spent 12 weeks away from my family to come here and be an opponent. I am here to be champion and I am not afraid of Joe or his reputation." As I speak on behalf of all Rhode Island, we can only hope...

End result: Unfortunately, Calzaghe in a blood bath. Too experienced. Too smart. Too skilled. Next up for Calzaghe...Mikkel Kessler.

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