He says he’s expecting a fight, though the rest of us are expecting a back-alley mugging, a short, quick seminar on how to legally beat a man silly in less time than it takes to heat up a frozen pizza.

Just days before his fight with Robert Allen at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, undisputed middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins is saying all the right things to all the right people. He’s going to retire at 42, he’s going to defend his title 20 times (he’s at 17 right now), and he’s not looking past Saturday night’s fight against Allen to his big-bucks, Sept. 18 showdown with Oscar De La Hoya.

Right. No looking past Allen (wink, wink). And I’m not looking past my dentist appointment to my buddy’s bachelor party on the same night.

Still, it sounds good, this not putting the cart before the horse. In this line of work, sometimes you got to beat one guy before you get the chance to beat another guy. And upsets? They actually happen.

So while De La Hoya (36-3, 29 KOs) gets ready to fight Felix Sturm (20-0, 9 KOs) on Saturday night at the MGM, Hopkins (43-2-1, 31 KOs) is getting ready to fight Allen (36-4, 27 KOs). And if both guys win (more winks), they’re headed for that Sept. 18 “Collision Course” meeting that could be the biggest money fight in boxing history this side of the heavyweight division.

How big would that fight be? Hopkins and De La Hoya could both get knocked out Saturday night and the promoters would still find a way to get them a win. That’s how much money that Sept. 18 fight could bring in.

Still, Hopkins tries to convince us he’s concerned about Allen because he knows anything can happen inside the ring.

The two have fought twice before and in that first fight in August, 1998, Hopkins was actually pushed out of the ring and had to quit because of injuries. The fight was ruled a no-contest. Of course, it was referee Mills Lane who accidently knocked Hopkins through the ropes that night, but that’s not the point. Anything can happen.

And their second fight six months later? Well, Allen didn’t get much help from the referee, but he didn’t need any backup, stopping Allen in the seventh round.

But if you listen to Hopkins talk about Allen and how he can’t afford to overlook the contender, Hopkins makes perfect sense.

“Robert Allen is nicknamed ‘Armed and Dangerous,’ ” Hopkins said on a conference call last week. “How can you not talk about a man that has the name ‘Armed and Dangerous‘?”

Gee, I don’t know, Mr. Executioner.

“Executioner” isn’t so much Hopkins’ nickname as it’s his attitude on fight night. It packs a bigger punch then “Armed and Dangerous,” which makes me think of a disgruntled bookkeeper packing a can of Mace.

“In boxing, you need a build-up,” Hopkins went on. “And what better build-up can you have? It’s not two ducks coming in here. Bernard Hopkins and De La Hoya are not fighting two stiffs from down the block. One is the champion (Sturm is the WBO champ) and one is a regional champion who can fight (Allen).”

Put the frozen pizza in the oven and set the timer at 20 minutes. It will be ready shortly after the fights are over.