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Page last updated at 12:18 GMT, Saturday, 12 April 2008 13:18 UK

Vegas to show Calzaghe pedigree

By Steffan Garrero

Eighteen years have passed since Calzaghe left any ring as loser.

Joe Calzaghe v Chris Eubank
Calzaghe has reserved his best for the biggest bouts

A Romanian amateur, Adrian Opreda, out-pointed the 17-year-old Welshman at the European Junior Championships.

He says that he cried like a baby in the dressing room afterwards, but vowed he'd never be a loser again.

So far he's stuck firmly to that promise.

Calzaghe fights at his best when his back is against the wall, when journalists start to get twitchy about whether this fight will be the first defeat in almost two decades.

The problem is that Joe is an extraordinary sportsman.

He knows that he can beat the likes of Peter Manfredo, Mger Mkrthchian and Branko Sobot without bringing his "A-Game".


You don't see the best of Calzaghe in those fights because he's not 100% motivated for them.

It's the same attitude which meant his meetings with David Starie, Kabary Salem and Sakio Bika took the full 12 rounds.

It is names and performances like these which lure Bernard Hopkins and the American media into a false sense of security.

"Who's he fought? Where are the future Hall of Famers on his CV?" asked the Philadelphian last week. Fair point.

Put the records of the two men next to one another and look simply at the names and you'll convince yourself that "The Executioner" is the only victor come 19 April.

Eubank, Woodhall, Mitchell, Lacy and Kessler have all been dealt with brilliantly by Calzaghe

Oscar De La Hoya, Winky Wright and Tito Trinidad have all succumbed to Hopkins. Impressive; until you look further.

The wins over De La Hoya and Trinidad were at middleweight.

Both men were moving up through the weights and weren't in their best division.

De La Hoya was a blown-up super-featherweight, Trinidad a natural welterweight.

Winky Wright was beaten in a light-heavyweight snooze-fest; Wright is a light-middleweight.

Calzaghe's best comes when he's up against fighters he knows have a good chance of adding their name next to Opreda's as men who've come out on top against Wales' finest.

Eubank, Woodhall, Mitchell, Lacy and Kessler have all been dealt with brilliantly by Calzaghe.

That's when you see the legendary hand speed, the underrated defence and boxing mind of Britain's greatest modern fighter.

Hopkins is a major threat and Calzaghe knows it.

Bernard Hopkins (left) and Joe Calzaghe
Hopkins will try anything to come out on top

He also knows that he'll have to "go to the mattresses", as Sonito Corleone put it in the Godfather, if he's to win.

Hopkins will try ANYTHING to come out on top. Every punch he throws brings with it the forearm, the elbow and sometimes even a cheeky head butt.

He also knows that Vegas is new to him. Being in a training camp away from the "comforts" of the pebble-dashed, ice-cold shack that he calls home will show us whether he can travel and still put in a winning performance.

It's all new territory. A new country to convince that he is the best. A new weight class to attempt to dominate. A new, cunning and tricky opponent.

But I wouldn't bet against the same old outcome, with Bernard Hopkins' name added to the 44 other pro fighters who've been beaten by Joe Calzaghe, rather than joining Adrian Opreda in a very exclusive club.

see also
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales
Wales' greatest US fight nights
25 Mar 08 |  Boxing
Calzaghe will be easy - Hopkins
04 Apr 08 |  Boxing
Hopkins issues chilling warning
19 Feb 08 |  Boxing
Round one to Calzaghe
07 Feb 08 |  Boxing
Calzaghe seals Hopkins showdown
23 Jan 08 |  Boxing
Hopkins taunts 'white' Calzaghe
07 Dec 07 |  Boxing
Calzaghe's big-bout brilliance
02 Nov 07 |  Boxing
The Calzaghe Record
04 Nov 07 |  Boxing

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