calzaghe-hopkins-ap-080419

Bernard Hopkins, left, tags Joe Calzaghe early in their 12-round fight Saturday in Las Vegas. ((Isaac Brekken/Associated Press))

Joe Calzaghe of Wales overcame a first-round knockdown to post a 12-round split-decision win over Bernard Hopkins in their light heavyweight bout Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Calzaghe improved his record to 45-0, with 32 knockouts. The scores were 115-112 and 116-111 for Calzaghe and 114-113 for Hopkins in the bout at the Thomas & Mack Center .

Calzaghe, 35, was contesting his first bout at 175 pounds and was also making his American debut after building his legend as an 168-pounder in the United Kingdom.

Hopkins, 43, stunned Calzaghe with a counter left hand in the first to score a knockdown.

Calzaghe had a hard time penetrating Hopkins's guard over the next two rounds, but the Philadelphia fighter wasn't offering much in the way of offence.

Calzaghe clearly took rounds four to six with activity, with Hopkins doing good work to the body in the seventh. At the end of the round, Calzaghe ran into a right hand which knocked him off balance, but he was not hurt.

The fighters exchanged solid left hands in the eighth and there were sustained flurries in the ninth round, with Calzaghe growing more emboldened.

Hopkins has rarely showed his age in the ring, but he began to tire in the 10th. The fatigue factor wasn't helped when Calzaghe landed an unintentional low blow.

Hopkins was given time to recuperate, and he recovered to land a pair of sneaky rights to take the round.

Calzaghe resumed his busy work rate in the 11th, however, and Hopkins had few answers other than to complain about another borderline punch.

The final round was not an easy one to score. Hopkins boxed the final round like he was ahead, and while he didn't land anything of much consequence, he mostly negated Calzaghe's offence.

Hopkins (48-5-1, 32 KOs)  complained bitterly about the decision afterward.

Montreal's Diaconu in title contention

Montreal-based light heavyweight boxer Adrian Diaconu scored a big win on Saturday with a close, unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Texan Chris Henry.

Diaconu won by scores of 115-113 (twice), and 116-113 in the bout in Bucharest.

He appeared to be on his way after a strong eighth round, but Henry finished the bout strongly.

"It wasn't my best fight but I did what I had to do in order to win," Diaconu told Reuters.

Diaconu (26-0, 15 knockouts) had last fought in May 2007 when he destroyed contender Rico Hoye in three rounds in Montreal.

He represented Romania at the 2000 Olympic before following in the footsteps of Montreal-based countryman Leonard Dorin, turning pro in Quebec in 2001.

With the win, Diaconu solidified his No. 1 ranking for the 175-pound World Boxing Council title. Diaconu was scheduled to fight titleholder WBC Chad Dawson last September, but was forced to pull out after a hand injury.