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Page last updated at 06:57 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 07:57 UK

Wily Hopkins attacks Calzaghe Sr

JOE CALZAGHE v BERNARD HOPKINS
Las Vegas, USA, Sunday 20 April
Coverage: Radio 5 Live, Radio Wales and BBC Sport website from 0300 BST

By Ben Dirs
BBC Sport in Las Vegas

Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe share a joke at Wednesday's news conference
Enzo Calzaghe (right) offered Hopkins a walking stick at the news conference

Bernard Hopkins has accused Enzo Calzaghe of putting his own ego ahead of the safety of his son Joe before Saturday's super-fight in Las Vegas.

Hopkins said Enzo, also Joe's trainer, was "living his dream through his son".

He said: "His ego can't let him stop it because it's like him being in the ring. It's really Enzo, that's why he'd rather see Joe carried out than quit."

Calzaghe Snr hit back: "Hopkins is the biggest coward under the sun. He stands no chance and the effect is zilch."

It was widely expected that Hopkins, who tore up a Puerto Rican flag ahead of his 2001 clash with Felix Trinidad, would raise the stakes at the final news conference on Wednesday.

But the set-piece passed without any controversy, other than when Calzaghe Snr offered the 43-year-old Hopkins a walking stick, which the Philadelphian accepted with humour.

However, away from the television cameras, Hopkins spoke at length about what he perceives to be the vicarious relationship between father and son.

"Joe's father fell short of his goals and he's living through his son, who he forced to be a fighter," Hopkins, who reigned as world middleweight champion for more than 10 years, told BBC Sport.

"He (Enzo) wanted to be a fighter but fell short of that for whatever reason. So his son, if you believe Joe's book, was forced to box.

Bernard Hopkins
My dad always taught me to respect my elders, but the old man's going to get battered on Saturday night for 12 rounds
Joe Calzaghe

"His son liked soccer, Joe never wanted to become a fighter. His son fell in love with being a fighter, I was born a fighter.

"It's like he's losing (in the ring), like him quitting. He'll be hurt just as much as Joe will be because he's living through his son."

But Calzaghe Sr, whose son has never been defeated while he has been in his corner, told BBC Sport: "It's nothing new. Everyone needs some type of armoury to reassure themselves that they are what they think they are.

"He's talking along those lines purely and simply because of that fear factor. Let him talk. When the bell goes on Saturday night all the talk will be over."

Hopkins added he was relishing his role as underdog, a role he has played in his last two fights, against Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright, both of which he won.

"My mentality, you'll never understand it because you're not cut from the same cloth," said Hopkins, who has a record of 48 wins, four losses and a draw.

"They say 'how do you feel being the underdog?' But I was born an underdog. That's what I like, don't you know that helps me?

"It's not a negative to me, it's a positive to me. Anything I did, in and out of the ring, I had to fight for. You have to be able to survive danger, like I have all my life.

"It's going to be a real, real eye-opener, because every time I'm not supposed to win, I get up for it."

Calzaghe Jr, who was unaware of Hopkins's comments, said he felt healthy in the lead-up to a big fight for the first time ever.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs

"I'm relaxed and excited about this fight and I feel that the extra seven pounds (Calzaghe is making his debut as a light-heavyweight) makes me feel a lot healthier, a lot stronger, but just as fast," he said.

"Light-heavyweight is perfect for me. It's enough to make me work to make the weight, but I'm not weak, I feel strong. I've definitely got more power.

"I'm only a few pounds over the weight now, which is a luxury for me, and to feel healthy at this stage is something that's never happened.

"And the hands feel fine. Maybe it's the warm weather and not starving myself, but I'm punching hard with both hands.

"My dad always taught me to respect my elders, but the old man's going to get battered on Saturday night for 12 rounds."

see also
Hopkins just too old - Calzaghe
15 Apr 08 |  Boxing
How to stop Joe Calzaghe
15 Apr 08 |  Boxing
Calzaghe v Hopkins photos
15 Apr 08 |  Boxing
Wales' greatest US fight nights
13 Apr 08 |  Boxing
Vegas to show Calzaghe pedigree
12 Apr 08 |  Boxing


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