Calzaghe Continues To Goad Hopkins

26.11.07 - By Matthew Hurley: In the wake of Joe Calzaghe’s spirited victory over Mikkel Kessler to unify the super middleweight crown there has been much speculation as to who the pride of Wales will take on next. At ringside after the decision was announced in his favor Calzaghe said that he wanted to fight Bernard Hopkins and that he would even be willing to fight the current light heavyweight title holder in the United States..

Initially it seemed that Hopkins, an aging fighter with limited big money fight prospects on the immediate horizon, would accept the challenge. Bernard’s ego is such that he will declare his superiority over every fighter and express the willingness to step into the ring with them, until that is, the issue of money arises. Hopkins is much more business man now than full time fighter and even when he was at his apex as a ring general when he ruled the middleweight roost he was known, and despised in many quarters, for his negotiating tactics. Those tactics led to fights that should have happened, like a Roy Jones rematch (and Jones was just as frugal as Hopkins when it came to money), to never come about. But it also garnered him the ultimate payoff that he had been scheming for in his 2004 defense against cash cow Oscar De La Hoya. That business savvy made him a lot of enemies, like former advisor Lou Dibella who took Hopkins to court after their falling out and won a cash settlement, but it also made him a millionaire.

Now Hopkins is playing financial and logistical games with Calzaghe and it’s led the usually reticent super middleweight champion to name calling. It’s obvious he wants to ride the wave of his newfound popularity right to the shoreline. He doesn’t want to make the same mistake he made after defeating Jeff Lacy in 2006 again. In that instance Calzaghe was on top of the world having violently turned back the challenge of an American opponent many thought would trounce him. Instead of capitalizing on that win the fighter often criticized for the level of his opposition chose to take on marginal opponents in his subsequent bouts and lost all the momentum from the biggest victory of his career.

So it doesn’t come as a shock that he is somewhat desperate to get a big name opponent in the ring with him now and Hopkins is his main target. In the past few days he has upped his verbal onslaught on the “Executioner” in hopes of getting a rise out of his hoped for opponent.

“As of now Bernard Hopkins should be called Mary Hopkins,” Calzaghe told FrankWarren.TV. “In fact, there is more fight in Mary Poppins than Hopkins. I’d have more respect for him if he just came out and said, “Joe, look, if I fight you I’m going to get my ass seriously beat. I accept that you are the best. Instead he got his trainer to basically say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Calzaghe is alluding to Bernard’s trainer Nazim Richardson who recently said that Bernard should fight Roy Jones should Jones defeat Felix Trinidad in their match up on January 19th.

Calzaghe has also made mention of the proposed bout with Hopkins that was to take place in 2002 when Bernard had agreed to terms to a fight for three million dollars only to later price himself out of the match. “If he is the legend that he says he is then he should fight me. Otherwise he’ll be known as the guy who twice chickened out of fighting Joe Calzaghe.”

Hopkins, who loves to play mind games with his opponents, is probably loving Calzaghe’s recent outbursts and hoping they continue in order to further whet the public’s appetite for a 2008 fight between the two. Even if Roy Jones defeats Felix Trinidad a Hopkins – Jones fight is still six years too late and wouldn’t garner the same enthusiasm as Hopkins – Calzaghe. The business man in Hopkins knows that a Calzaghe fight is the bigger risk and that he could make good money with a safer bet against Jones, but his ego may get the better of him as he closes out his hall of fame career. His rival across the pond is doing everything he can to incite the fistic flames that still burn in Bernard Hopkins’ fighting heart and those insults may prove just enough to finally get Hopkins and Calzaghe in the ring.

Article posted on 26.11.2007

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