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Hopkins Goads Joe Calzaghe

BY Robert Ecksel ON December 17, 2006
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The Executioner beats the Joe Calzaghe drum loudly

After unbeaten super middleweight sensation Joe Calzaghe dispatches Peter Manfredo Jr. on April 7 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, his stock will have climbed even further, making his post-Manfredo opponent of even greater interest than it is now.

Bernard Hopkins Middleweight king Jermain Taylor, who wants to move up in weight after another easy defense, this time against Sergio Mora, has been mentioned as a possible Calzaghe challenge, but the fight most people want to see is Joe versus the recently un-retired Bernard Hopkins, who appears to have abandoned his quest to fight WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev, at least for now.

"You can say what you want about Bernard Hopkins,� the 41-year-old Hopkins, referring to himself in the third person, told icWales on Sunday, “but the one thing you can't deny is that I'm a star. I'm in the top three pay-per-view fighters in the last few years as I fight people with credibility, for example Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Jermain Taylor and Antonio Tarver. I guarantee a huge audience.�

There is no denying that Hopkins is a star, but so is Calzaghe, albeit not of the magnitude of B-Hop, at least not yet.

"Joe Calzaghe hasn't a track record on pay-per-view so he cannot dictate terms over here. He may be able to do what he wants in England, but in America he's a nobody,� continued Hopkins. "If Calzaghe wants Bernard Hopkins, he'll have to pay. I'm a businessman first, fighter second. And I'm not chasing Joe Calzaghe. Joe Calzaghe must understand I don't need him, he needs me. If he thinks I'm fighting in England, it's not going to happen.�

Although I’m not privy to the ultimate ins and outs of making Calzaghe’s first bout after Manfredo, that’s Frank Warren's doing, my understanding is that Manfredo was chosen as a steppingstone specifically to draw an American audience to the Welshman’s next fight, which will be broadcast on HBO, before Calzaghe comes to the States to fight his fight on this side of the pond.

"His promoter Frank Warren will want the best deal for him and his fighter, but I'm big box office and must be paid accordingly. But I'm always fair and this deal can be done quickly one way or another. Then I can go back to having fun and making money without taking the punches.�

For those who wonder how Hopkins makes money without taking punches, he offered a few details: "I'm setting up real estate, I'm CEO of a promotion company and I've movie deals coming out of my arse, so I don't need the fight.�

Admittedly, Hopkins, should he fight Calzaghe, will be the toughest customer Joe has faced during his stellar career.

“I'm not your ordinary fighter. Joe Calzaghe doesn't just need a big fight but a big name fight,� said Hopkins. "Forget Jermain Taylor. The only credible legend out there at the moment is Bernard Hopkins. Roy Jones Jr. is a spent force. It's no big deal knocking him out. I'm the man… It's Bernard Hopkins, who is a living legend, versus Joe Calzaghe, who wants to be a living legend. But it's more than Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Calzaghe, it's orthodox vs. southpaw and USA vs. Britain.�

For those who think Hopkins’ trash talk indicates he has no respect for Calzaghe, think again.

"Joe Calzaghe showed why he has been a champion for damn near a decade," said Hopkins. "He can fight. He's a tough, in-your-face fighter with the boxing skills to imitate a modern-day Jake LaMotta. LaMotta was a tough, rugged guy. Even if you broke his nose he'd still come back for more. Joe has the heart of Arturo Gatti and epitomizes a boxer's mentality." Read more at the BLOG 

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