AFP, December 7, 2007
Bernard Hopkins, vowing never to lose to a “white boy”, and unbeaten Welshman Joe Calzaghe traded verbal jabs Friday in their first face-to-face meeting ahead of a US-British showdown next year.
Hopkins, who said Yankee Stadium is interested in hosting the bout, and Calzaghe, hoping to add the biggest name yet to his list of victims, vowed they would fight even as both camps were in talks to arrange contract details.
“I will never let a white boy beat me. Never,” Hopkins said, dismissing cries of racism. “Call it whatever you want. I’ll never let a white boy beat me. Never.”
“You will lose,” Calzaghe answered. “It’s going to be so sweet when I beat your ass.”
The explosive exchange came on the eve of undefeated Englishman Ricky Hatton’s welterweight title bout against unbeaten US champion Floyd Mayweather.
Minutes before they met, Hopkins revealed his camp offered the Welshman a 50-50 split from the proposed light-heavyweight fight after Calzaghe’s side rejected a 60-40 divide favoring the American.
“Wow, that’s awesome, defintely,” Calzaghe said. “I’ll even let him have his ego and give him 51-49.”
Hopkins, who turns 43 next month, is 48-4 with one drawn and 32 knockouts. He beat Winky Wright in July and Antonio Tarver last year by decisions after losing twice by decision to Jermain Taylor in 2005.
Calzaghe, a 35-year-old southpaw, improved to 44-0 with 32 knockouts last month by beating Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler in Cardiff to unify two major super middleweight crowns.
“Kessler? Who is Kessler?” Hopkins said. “I know I’m going to beat you. You must be punch drunk.”
“Bring it on,” Calzaghe said. “I will execute ‘The Executioner.’”
As Calzaghe was finishing a series of radio interviews, Hopkins walked over and stood face-to-face for the first time with the European.
“Of course I’m going to take the fight,” Calzaghe said.
“I’m going to take that 0 from you,” Hopkins countered. “I’m a legend.”
“I’m going to beat you wherever you want to fight,” Calzaghe replied.
“I’m going to get you,” Hopkins said. “I’m going to wreck your face.”
“I’ve been fighting for 25 years. I (still) have this face for a reason,” Calzaghe said.
Calzaghe, who claimed he would fight only twice more, said he dearly wants to fight Hopkins after the exchange.
“I can’t wait to send him out,” Calzaghe said. “He will lose to me. I throw 1,000 punches a round. He throws 12. He’s just talk. He doesn’t stand a chance. I’m going to whip his ass.”
There has been talk of staging the fight in Britain, but Richard Schaefer, chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions, expects a US venue, citing Hopkins’ multi million-dollar US pay-per-view popularity and timing issues.
“Can Joe get that kind of money in the UK?” he said. “I rest my case.”
Hopkins claimed Calzaghe fears leaving his European comfort zone for a US venue.
“He’s milking them in Europe fighting fighters he knows he can beat, fattening his bank account. If he wants to keep sticking them up, that’s fine,” Hopkins said. “Joe needs an American name on his resume.”
Hatton somewhat agreed, saying, “He will just look good on my CV,” but adding, “He is well past his expiration date.”
Hopkins, who said he rejected a private meeting with Calzaghe, wants to see an Independence Day theme with himself seen as fighting off a British invasion the way the American colonies did England in the 1700s.
“We have to put a stop to your invasion. You want to put us under the queen’s regime,” Hopkins said. “I’m the black Paul Revere saying ‘The British are coming again.’
“We can make it fun. I will get a red, white and blue costume and a midget band and play ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’. It would be so patriotic.”
A pro-Hatton crowd booed Hopkins and cheered Calzaghe at the weigh-in for Mayweather-Hatton, chanting, “You’ll never beat Calzaghe” while Hopkins made a throat-slashing gesture.”