Hopkins And Calzaghe Plant The Seeds For Big Promotion

15.12.07 - By Matthew Hurley: After light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins capped off his tirade at the expense of super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe with the lamentable comment, “I would never let a white boy beat me,” Calzaghe, remarkably comfortable under fire by one of the best purveyors of psychological warfare, laughed. Instead of falling into the out-of-character role of manic indignation, the Welshman took the entire scene, which played out before a raucous crowd awaiting the Hatton – Mayweather weigh in, completely in stride..

“Hopkins, he’s the way he is,” he told BBC Sport afterwards. “He’s going to get in your face and try to intimidate you. But it ain’t going to work with me. He tried his mind games but I took it and gave him a bit back. That’s what it’s all about and I’m buzzing.”

Calzaghe, who has never fought in the US before let alone under the neon lights and before the star-studded crowds of Las Vegas, ate the atmosphere up and is now itching to fight in Sin City. In terms of promotional hype, the genial boxer, now Britain’s sports personality of the year couldn’t have been paired with a better dance partner than the still brash and confrontational Hopkins. Whatever happens when the bell rings to open that first round is debatable but the pre-fight hype is guaranteed to be fun.

“That was brilliant,” Calzaghe said in reference to Hopkins’ taunts. “At the end of the day that’s the main reason I came over, to try and make the Hopkins fight and that’s what sells. Now the public is going to be begging for that fight, hopefully.”

Hopkins, now fully entrenched in his role as a promoter in Golden Boy Promotions, knew he had a potential windfall on his hands and could carry on where Mayweather left off and play the villain to Calzaghe’s good guy in front of the six thousand strong British throng that were all soused up at the MGM Grand. He found further fuel to stoke his promotional fire when the British fans booed the American National Anthem before the Hatton – Mayweather fight. A week later Hopkins still understands that patriotism can rile people up. He used it to great effect in the aftermath of 9/11 in his career best fistic performance against Felix Trinidad at Madison Square Garden on September 29, 2001.

“I’m gonna make this thing so patriotic,” he told the Las Vegas Sun. “They booed the National Anthem. Everyone’s gonna say, ‘We’ve got to team up and support the American in this war.’”

Again, Hopkins can twist his words in a rather deplorable way – using the word ‘war’ in regards to any sporting event has always been questionable when an actual war is going on – but for a man who is often involved in less than exciting fights he knows how to sell an event. On the other hand, Hopkins can turn off his brazen approach to promotion and offer very prescient analysis. In regards to British fans, Hopkins nailed it on the head.

“Of course they’re gonna support their people,” he offers. “But one thing about European fans, they respect their warriors, they respect boxing, they respect athletes no matter who they are. They got us beat by a landslide when it comes to loyalty, to being true to the game.”

As for Calzaghe, he continues to hope the fight will come off and end up in the US.

“If I can get the Hopkins fight, it would be amazing and now I know if I come out here (United States), if I get the sort of people to come over that Hatton got, it’ll be a home away from home.”

Article posted on 16.12.2007

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