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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 10:59 GMT
Calzaghe seals Hopkins showdown
Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe came face-to-face in Las Vegas last year
Bernard Hopkins taunted Joe Calzaghe in Las Vegas last month
Joe Calzaghe will face Bernard Hopkins in a non-title bout at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on 19 April.

The mouth-watering super-fight will see super-middleweight champion Calzaghe, 35, step up to light-heavyweight and fight in America for the first time.

Hopkins, 43, is widely regarded as the best in the world at the 175lb limit, but Calzaghe is supremely confident.

"I won't be taking Hopkins lightly, but I believe I have the tools to beat him," said the unbeaten Welshman.

All of Calzaghe's fights have been at super-middleweight, but he believes the extra weight will benefit rather than hinder him against his American opponent.

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"My biggest strength is my speed and I don't believe that will be blunted," said the 2007 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

"Even at 12st 7lb (light-heavyweight limit) I'll be struggling to get down to that weight - 12st (super-middleweight limit) only takes away my strength and punching power.

"So I believe the extra seven pounds will add to my strength and punching power. It's not a case of building up to light-heavyweight, it's just a case of not killing myself so much."

The fighters squared up in Vegas last month at the weigh-in for the Ricky Hatton versus Floyd Mayweather contest.

Pound-for-pound great Hopkins said he "would never let a white boy beat me" as he tried to taunt 10-year champion Calzaghe, who laughed off his boasts.

Calzaghe said the atmosphere generated by the many thousands of Hatton fans in Las Vegas persuaded him to seek a debut fight on American soil.

I owe to the fans and myself to have at least one fight in America before I retire

Joe Calzaghe

"This is a dream come true," said the Welshman. "People always ask me 'when are you going to America?' and now they've got their answer."

"I owe to the fans and myself to have at least one fight in America before I retire.

"That's the only thing missing from my record. I've been wondering for years if it would happen and finally it is going to happen.

"I've taken a big leap and I'm looking forward to going there. I wouldn't take this big leap if I didn't think 100% in my heart I would win the fight."

Calzaghe's promoter Frank Warren last week confirmed the deal had been done to bring his man and Hopkins together.

"It's taken a lot of hard work but I'm delighted that we have a deal," said Warren at a media conference to announce the date and venue for the fight on Wednesday.

"I've always wanted Joe to fight Hopkins, because I believe he has the beating of him.

"We've seen in the past how many British fight fans have gone to America to see fights involving our guys, and I'm sure people will go in their thousands again."

BOXING'S 10-YEAR CHAMPIONS
Joe Louis, 1937-49
Archie Moore, 1952-62
Julio Cesar Chavez, 1984-94
Azumah Nelson, 1984-94
Ricardo Lopez, 1990-2001
Bernard Hopkins, 1995-2005
Joe Calzaghe, 1997-

New York had been suggested as a host city, with Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden mooted as venues.

But the extra glitz and capacity offered by the super-hotels and casinos of Las Vegas has won the day.

Newbridge-born Calzaghe has long been after a super-fight against former middleweight king Hopkins.

The Welshman has won all of his 44 fights, with 32 knockouts, and in his last outing he beat Mikkel Kessler to add the WBC and WBA titles to his WBO belt.

Hopkins, known as 'The Executioner', has a record of 48 wins, four defeats and one draw, and is one of only seven men (including Calzaghe) to have held world titles for 10 years.

His last two fights have been at light-heavyweight, where he secured unanimous points victories over Ronald Wright (July 2007) and Antonio Tarver (June 2006).



SEE ALSO
Calzaghe v Hopkins 'very close'
10 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Hopkins taunts 'white' Calzaghe
07 Dec 07 |  Boxing
The Calzaghe Record
04 Nov 07 |  Boxing
Inside Team Calzaghe
29 Oct 07 |  Boxing
BBC Sport Wales coverage
31 Dec 07 |  Wales


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