The lead-up to the Nov. 8 showdown between Roy Jones and Joe Calzaghe is kind of important to HBO, which is the purveyor of the pay per view broadcast. How do I know this? Because HBO imported Michael Buffer to the Hard Rock Café in Times Square on Tuesday to emcee the press conference to kick off the countdown to the show.

I say “kind of” important, because Buffer never did unleash his trademark catchphrase…(am I allowed to even write it, or will I get a “pay up or else” letter from Buffer’s attorney?)…Let’s Get Reaaady To Ruuumble. I guess, and I only guess, that it would’ve taken another stack of bills to get Buffer to unleash his famous warcry.

Buffer did give the proceedings a bump in drama, I will say, and he seems genuinely pumped  about the two Hall of Famers to be colliding. It seems, if I read our comment section correctly, however, that many or most boxing fans would’ve been more pumped if the unbeaten Prince of Wales, Calzaghe, had let the Young(stown) Lion Kelly Pavlik take a crack at knocking him off his perch as The Man at 160-175 pounds. Why didn’t Calzaghe/Pavlik happen, some TSS regulars wanted to know.  Team Calzaghe says the Pavlik crew had ample opportunity to make that happen, while Team Pavlik says that is not so, and accuse Calzaghe (45-0, 32 KOs) of dodging them. My strong instinct is that issue will sort itself out early in 2009, and from a “boxing is a business first, sport second” perspective, it makes sense; if Pavlik takes down Bernard Hopkins on Oct. 18, and Calzaghe out-throws Jones at MSG, the Calzaghe/Pavlik bout just had a few million more thrown into the pot.

But wait. You’ve maybe heard that Calzaghe is saying that this fight against Jones (52-4, 38 KOs) will be his last? TSS asked Calzaghe point blank how many fights he has left in him.

“This is the last one,” said Calzaghe, age 36 1/2.

“Do you swear?” TSS asked, giving him the Dubya to Putin test, looking deep into his soul.

“Yeah, well,” Calzaghe said, squirming slightly, with a hint of a grin on his face.

TSS posed the same question of Jones, who looked to be on his last legs after suffering back to back KO losses in 2004 (to Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson) and a UD12 loss to Tarver in 2005. How many more, RJJ?

“What God tells me,” he said.

I paused, hoping for something less vague.

“What’s God saying right now?” TSS asked.

Jones maybe didn’t care for a query that could’ve been deemed impertinent. He paused and said, “I’m just concentrating on beating Joe right now.” He did not jump down from the stage and administer the million dollar beating I was hoping for, though…

Maybe God texted him or emailed or communicated however He does after that, because Jones then said that he’d be looking at the Pavlik/Hopkins winner, or the winner of the Oct. 11 Chad Dawson/Antonio Tarver bout.

Apart from Buffer’s appearance, you know HoBO really cares about this scrap because they are putting together a 24-7 series as we speak. Head honcho Ross Greenburg’s face looked almost free of lines. No wonder, we figured out, because he said he’s been worry free because he’s “happy to be doing a Mayweather-less 24-7.” A clap on the back to Ross for slinging that zinger; he should’ve hammered Jones and backed up all of his staff when Money went there in July.

Jones trainer, Alton Merkerson, took to the mike and said he’s seen things in training that he hasn’t seen since the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. It was avariation of what we heard before Jones took on Trinidad to start the year.

 Calzaghe’s attorney Gareth Williams then set up the presentation of a Ring magazine belt to Calzaghe. The attorney pre-apologized when intro-ing Ring staffer Joe Santoloquito, who handed Calzaghe the belt. Joe didn’t grimace, to his credit, when Williams called him “Joe Loquito.” The TSS belt was due to be given out, too, but I had it stored in a Popeyes chicken bag, which had some grease on it, so I figured I’d take it home and wash it, so as not to get Calzaghe’s hands greasy. Next time, Calzaghe.

Joe’s dad Enzo spoke, and I was pleased to realize I understood about 95% of what he said. The trainer/father said he was glad his son landed this fight, because he’d been pestering him for ages to get it on. The Calzaghes and Jones both made mention a few times that the fight happened because Calzaghe’s ex promoter (Frank Warren) and Jones’ ex promoter (Don King) were shoved out of the picture.

Jones spoke, and spent a few minutes congratulating himself, or God I guess, for his handsomeness. His mama (shouldn’t she and Roy’s dad get credit too?) told him to walk away from pugilism,  he said, but he just can’t get the sport out of his system. “I can’t seem to stop just yet,” he said.

Calzaghe spoke, after Buffer noted that he looked like the swashbuckler film icon Errol Flynn: “After the Hopkins fight, I wondered what else I’d do in my career. There was only one guy I wanted to fight, that’s Roy Jones Jr. That was the only thing missing in my career.”

As for Pavlik, the Young(stown) Lion, Calzaghe said “he’s not done anything yet.” Presumably, a win, and even better, a stoppage win, over Hopkins would constitute “something.”

Both fighters agreed that the other man will have the fastest hands of anyone they’ve faced, and both promised a fan-friendly fight. Calzaghe said he knew going in that his bout with Hopkins last April would be a stinker, because of Bernard’s clutching and grabbing tactics, but the Jones bout won’t suffer the same fate. Joe C said he think Pavlik should be favored against the 43 ½ year old Hopkins, but cautioned “don’t write Hopkins off.” On the subject of past-their-prime legends, Calzaghe said he didn’t make much of Jones’ smackdown of Tito Trinidad in January. “No disrespect to Trinidad,” he said, “but he’s a blown up welterweight. I watched tapes of Jones’ previous fights. That would be like watching tapes of me versus Peter Manfredo.”

Calzaghe said his balky right wrist is healed up fine, but acknowledged he goes into every fight dinged up to a degree.

Jones fielded questions from writers and videographers. He chose not to comment on Floyd Mayweather’s slap at HBO, in which he called them racist. Calzaghe does not remind him of anyone he has fought in the past, RJJ said. In the Nov. 8 bout, he said we can expect to see him working off the ropes. “That’s my trap, not my opponent’s trap,” he stated.

Speaking of traps… I’m pretty certain a lot you readers who may have thought they’d save their dough and watch the rebroadcast of the Calzaghe/Jones tiff will find themselves ensnared by the slick marketing of the fight, and ponying up on fight night. I will, because I think there is a slim chance that Jones, who fights all out for about 10% of each round, can deal a blow to Joe’s ‘O.’ What about you, TSS Universe, who do you like on Nov. 8?