GAMBLER’S RUIN, USA – The sports book sirens are singing.

Most Vegas betting boards reportedly established Joe Calzaghe as an almost three to one favorite over Bernard Hopkins heading into the weigh-in for Saturday’s contest.

I’d say that means Hopkins has the visitor from Wales just about where he wants him, whether the Thomas and Mack Center is half-full, with only Calzaghe fans in the no-cheap (for $250, bring the binoculars) seats.

In terms of styles meshing or melting down, probable punch rates, predetermined aggressiveness, and intangibles like injury or outrage, Hopkins/Calzaghe is a pick’em fight. In such toss-ups, any edge in experience and pedigree makes a Grand Canyon’s width of difference.

My initial vibe was that Hopkins had stayed at the big buck buffet too long, and that Calzaghe would win a narrow, inglorious waltz by forcing Hopkins into neutrality similar to what Jermain Taylor accomplished.

I’m still not sold that the fight will live up to it’s potential, but as the days before first bell wound down, it looked more and more like Planet Hollywood is Hopkins’ living room.

If Calzaghe gets trapped in the octopus arms of Hopkins’s wrestling repertoire, he’ll likely feel frustration and could fade into futility.

If Calzaghe shows up as the same battering ram he was against Jeff Lacy, we’ll see a great mongoose cobra match.

Hopkins will most likely try and peck away for points in the stick, shove and shuffle show he pulled off against Antonio Tarver. If he can turn in another performance like that, we give Hopkins a 75% chance of crowing until Christmas.

Hopkins is perceived as well past his prime, but I think he doth not protest enough.

If Hopkins wins, it says here he leapfrogs Floyd Mayweather Jr as the pound for pound king.

If Calzaghe manages to achieve his promised knockout, he’s in almost the same slugging stratosphere. He’ll have just about run out of challenges and may even hang ‘em up long before “The Executioner’s” last song.

In terms of risk:reward this is just about as close as big fights get, with suspense and skill like a series of high stake poker hands all in until the final raise.

Calzaghe looks just a little too happy to be here, even if hanging with Miss USA and the hometown blokes justifies it. Hopkins’s game is clubbing complacency.

Hopkins has strolled through this Vegas Strip scenario as both participant and promoter enough that he could probably sleepwalk his way up Paradise Boulevard to the UNLV fight grounds.

To me, he’d have to be asleep before I’d make him even a two to one underdog, understanding many prognostic percentages are simply enticements. Short change sirens as it are.

When somebody asks me about fixed fights I usually point out how the sports books pick most pro and college football, basketball or baseball games to within a small margin of points, even to halves, day after day.

Sometimes I hear about “a good bet to lose”.

Extreme gambling caution should always be urged and followed. History proves that anything can happen, but it proves much more that local oddsmakers usually hit the bull’s eye.

However you look at it, getting 3-1 on a proven performer like Bernard Hopkins against somebody moving up in weight doesn’t come along often.

We almost had to take a little action.