Calzaghe Sets His Sights On Hopkins

04.11.07- By Matthew Hurley: After turning back the spirited challenge of Mikkel Kessler undisputed super middleweight boxing champion Joe Calzaghe made it known that he intends to move up to the light heavyweight division and try to secure a match with Bernard Hopkins. A Calzaghe – Hopkins fight has been brewing for years but depending on whom you talk to either Hopkins continually priced himself out of the match and refused to fight in Europe or Calzaghe did exactly the same in regards to money and refused to fight in the United States. Ultimately though, in years past, it would have been Hopkins who would be challenging for Calzaghe’s title. So it seemed reasonable, at least in Calzaghe’s eyes, that the challenger should come to him.

Now Calzaghe will be moving up to a division that he has never fought in and one in which Hopkins is, for the moment, generally regarded as the true champion. So how will the terms of this long awaited showdown be dictated?

Calzaghe’s promoter Frank Warren, basking in the glow of Calzaghe’s latest triumph, laid it all out on the line in post fight interviews.

According to an article published on by Iain Axon, Warren bellowed, “Hopkins can pick the date. He can pick the weight and he can pick the venue. Joe Calzaghe will fight him any time anywhere. The only condition is that he gets paid well.”

The only problem with Warren’s proclamation is that he is a promoter. He’s also a promoter with a very hot fighter on his hands right now and should he and Calzaghe go into negotiations with Bernard Hopkins nothing will be different from all those years ago when this fight was first proposed. Certainly both men are significantly older but their respective egos, particularly Hopkins, are still alive and kicking. Hopkins eventually became a big star in boxing by bucking the system and pricing himself out of lucrative matches until Felix Trinidad entered the middleweight division in 2001, knocked out William Joppy and figured, as many people did, Hopkins would be another pelt on his belt. Hopkins turned in the performance of his career, stopping Trinidad in a post-9/11 triumph and suddenly became the giant elephant in the room that no one could ignore anymore.

Calzaghe by contrast has flew under the American radar screen and even after decimating highly touted Jeff Lacy was still not given full credit for his world class skills. Going into the Kessler match, and Kessler, it should be reiterated, is a damn good fighter who will only get better as he continues his career, the Welshman again found himself being questioned. There should be no question anymore – Joe Calzaghe is a great fighter and should he come to the United States to take on a fighter like Bernard Hopkins he should be handsomely compensated.

Joe is also aware that his career is winding down and he would love to cash out in a boxing Mecca like Las Vegas. It would be a fitting end to a hall of fame career should he close out his fistic reign on a grand stage in Vegas or, better still, Madison Square Garden. He deserves it, even though there will still be critics crawling out of the woodwork when his next opponent is announced to pose those same tired questions as to his true worth. Only this time it will be a much smaller contingent and his fans won’t feel the need to defend him quite so vociferously. All they will have to do is point to his record and say, “Just enjoy this great fighter while you can, because he won’t be around much longer.”

Article posted on 05.11.2007

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