Hopkins calls fight with Calzaghe a backward step

Joe Calzaghe is riding high these days, and for good reason. The undefeated super middleweight sensation from Wales, armed with an HBO contract guaranteeing him maximum American exposure in the immediate future, is following the wise words of his compatriot Lennox Lewis (The States is the Mecca of boxing and the money is on a different level. Joe could earn himself a small fortune over there”) and has decided it’s high time to wave goodbye to the provincialism of fighting overseas to try his hand at the provincialism of fighting in the U.S.

Even before his victory over Sakio Bika last week, names of potential Calzaghe foes have been tossed around: Clinton Woods. Mikkel Kessler. Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver. The list seemed never-ending. But the name that created the most buzz as Calzaghe’s next possible in line was that of middleweight legend Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, now sort of retired, but apparently itching to climb back into the ring.

Hopkins has had his eye on Oleg Maskaev ever since he won the WBC heavyweight crown by crashing Hasim Rahman‘s (and the USA’s) party with his patience, will and fists, and has said as much on many occasions. Still, as though Calzaghe was hard of hearing or something, Ex was the main man in his sights, the guy Calzaghe wanted next.

The original plan cooked up by Team Calzaghe was for Joe and Bernard to meet next March for a £10million showdown, according to the Sunday Mirror, but the never-at-a-loss-for-words Hopkins put a kibosh on those plans, not temporarily, but once and for all.

“Calzaghe is a good fighter but right now it would be a backward step for me,” Hopkins said. “It is not a big enough fight right now and I need a big fight to get motivated. A fight against Maskaev would be exactly the type of fight I need.”

Maskaev, originally from Kazakhstan but now living in California, defends his belt in Moscow in December against an unknown from Uganda named Peter Okhello. Should Big O get by the big Ugandan, maybe Hopkins and Maskaev will get it on, and maybe B-Hop wins and moves on to greater glory.

“We have had some early talks with Hopkins and things look good at the moment,” Maskaev’s manager, Dennis Rappaport, said. “When the Okhello fight is over I’m sure that we will talk some more with Hopkins and his people.”

Calzaghe has heard the news and isn’t taking it lying down.

“Hopkins, to be honest, is just one of the names on a long list,” he said. “[But] it’s funny how the so-called big names in American boxing always have a handy reason not to fight me.”