Who Will Retire First – Joe Calzaghe Or Bernard Hopkins?

02.01.09 – by James Slater – Both Joe Calzaghe and Bernard Hopkins are definite future Hall of Famers, and as soon as they are eligible the two modern day greats will be getting the call – but the careers of both men may not be quite over yet. Calzaghe told his fans he would sit down and decide over Christmas whether or not he would fight again, and Hopkins’ future is also as yet undetermined. At their respective ages of almost 37 and almost 44, both “The Pride of Wales” and “The Executioner” would be more than entitled to decide never to lace ’em up ever again, so much have they already achieved. But will this be the case? Just who will call it a day first?

Hopkins will probably have at least one more fight in 2009. Wanting very much a return fight with Calzaghe ever since the Welshman won his split decision back in April, Hopkins will likely have to look elsewhere for a fight to motivate him. Calzaghe said, quote, “Screw Hopkins. I’m not fighting him again for any amount of money.” And it seems Joe meant what he said. Finding the motivation to fight again will be even harder for Joe than it is for B-Hop. Sure, there’s the unbeaten Chad Dawson calling him out every chance he gets, as too is there Carl Froch doing likewise. But the 46-0 great doesn’t appear to be too bothered about silencing either guy.

Ideally, if Hopkins and Calzaghe were to fight again, they would meet each other in a rematch. Their first fight was close enough for argument, and a part two would surely sell. No-one wants to see Calzaghe-Roy Jones II (which, amazingly enough, has apparently been discussed between the two camps), neither does anyone want to see Hopkins-Roy Jones II; not anymore. But Calzaghe-Hopkins II is a possible sequel that does intrigue. The chances of it happening are pretty slim, judging by what Calzaghe had to say on the matter, anyway – but if Hopkins were willing to come over to the UK for a return, Joe just might change his mind.

There is a good chance Calzaghe will be tempted to box once more, in a farewell performance to be staged in front of his countrymen. A return with the man who arguably pushed him harder than any other rival may not be too appealing to Calzaghe, but at the same time a farewell bout would have to be against a marketable name for it to be a big seller, TV-wise. Hopkins, due to his excellent showing against Kelly Pavlik, remains a marketable name. Very much so.

Obviously, both boxers want to wind up their careers without suffering another loss (or a first loss in Calzaghe’s case), but the temptation to do it one more time will be very strong. Hopkins, we know, grows bored very quickly when he has no fight coming up to train for, and it will be just as tough for Calzaghe to walk away from something he’s been doing brilliantly since the early 1990s.

To answer the question posed by the title of this article, I feel Calzaghe will retire first, even though he is the younger man. If he can’t get his return with the “White boy” he said would never beat him, a 44-year-old Hopkins will rack his brains and come up with another challenge to inspire him one more time. Calzaghe, though the idea of a farewell fight will have been given much thought, will decide not to push his luck, and will retire with his unbeaten record intact.

At least, on this second day of a new year, this is my take on the subject. Doubtless, many will disagree.

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