Roger Alton Roger Alton

Spectator Sport | 26 April 2008

Old Soldiers

Being a sports fan is, as Max Mosley knows too well, a painful and often expensive business. I knew my cavalier investment in Bernard Hopkins to beat Joe Calzaghe on Saturday night, despite Hopkins at 43 being almost as old as I am, was heading where the sun don’t shine as soon as Tom Jones popped up in the ring to sing the Welsh national anthem. Crikey, he’s good. It made my hairs, what’s left, stand on end so God knows what it did for Calzaghe let alone the flag-loads of Welsh fans ringside in Vegas.

In truth it was a nasty, tight, uninspiring fight. Now Calzaghe has said he’s going to fight Roy Jones, 39, and the official ‘Fighter of the Decade’ — though that decade was the 1990s. I don’t want to moan, but shouldn’t these guys be fighting each other when they are at their physical peak, not just their bankable peak?

I suppose Calzaghe is just putting off the point at which he becomes an ex-boxer. Not the easiest career, I must say. Poor Frank Bruno hasn’t managed it well though the great Barry McGuigan seems to have pulled it off. His easy charm and laid-back erudition certainly helped me through the small hours on Sunday morning as Setanta’s studio pundit.

What happens to ex-rugby players is a bit murkier. After one of the most badly handled pieces of management since the assassination of Julius Caesar, the former England coach Brian Ashton was duly shafted last week and the monobrowed superman and 2003 World Cup winner Martin Johnson took over as England team manager. Behind it all seems to be the figure of Rob Andrew, a man unlikely to win many popularity contests. If you were at Twickers, you might be asking what exactly is he supposed to be doing.

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