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Page last updated at 23:16 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 00:16 UK

Calzaghe Sr warns 'dirty' Hopkins

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

Joe Calzaghe
Calzaghe's team have called for a clean fight from Hopkins

Joe Calzaghe's father and trainer Enzo says he is confident his charge will come out on top if Bernard Hopkins resorts to dirty tactics.

Calzaghe Sr added that Hopkins would "rather get disqualified than lose".

"Joe has fought dirty fighters, and they've all ended up in hospital - Joe can be a dirty fighter as well," Calzaghe Sr told BBC Sport.

"I've heard Hopkins's plan is to get disqualified rather than losing. It's cowardliness, pure and simple."

Joe Calzaghe meets Hopkins in a light-heavyweight encounter in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday morning, UK time.

On Wednesday, the 43-year-old Hopkins accused Calzaghe Sr of putting his own ego ahead of the safety of his own son and that "he'd rather see Joe carried out of the ring than quit".

He also claimed Calzaghe Sr was "living his dreams through his son", comments that Calzaghe Sr was quick to dismiss.

Now Calzaghe Sr has challenged Hopkins to prove his legendary status and implored him not to resort to dark arts in a bid to steal the fight.

"Hopkins has never excited me because he's a spoiler, a smotherer and a stealer," said Calzaghe Sr.

"If he's a legend, why should he resort to things like this? We came here to satisfy the public's demands, to give the world a spectacle, an interesting fight.

"If you're a legend, prove it, don't just spoil Joe Calzaghe's plan. Is that what America wants? I guarantee Joe will perform like a true champion.

"If Hopkins does get the verdict, it will be disgusting. How can he be a champion on the back of spoiling?

Interview: Enzo Calzaghe

"But I will guarantee you he'll do that because that's what he did in his last two fights, against Winky Wright and Antonio Tarver, lots of punching first and head after.

"Please, Bernard, make a true, honest fight, that's all I'm asking, and you'll go down as a legend. Spoil and steal, and you'll go down as a bum."

Calzaghe Sr added he was confident referee Joe Cortez, who officiated the Ricky Hatton-Floyd Mayweather bout last December, would retain control of the fight.

Hatton, who was knocked out in 10 rounds, is adamant that Cortez played a large part in his first defeat as a professional in Las Vegas.

"I respect Joe Cortez, he refereed Joe's fight against Chris Eubank [when Calzaghe Jr claimed the WBO super-middleweight belt in 1997]," said Calzaghe Sr.

"He's a world-class referee and I hope he doesn't let Hopkins get away with anything.

"But although Joe may look like an angel, he can be a dirty fighter as well, so if you want to play dirty, you'll end up with an absolute brawl.

"Joe Calzaghe will destroy this guy. This guy's got nothing except spoiling tactics and the mentality of a loser and under pressure, he becomes a coward."

Hopkins and Calzaghe at Wednesday's media conference
Calzaghe is prepared for Hopkins' dirty tactics, says Enzo

Meanwhile, former cruiserweight world champion Enzo Maccarinelli believes his stable-mate and compatriot's work-rate will simply be too much for the Philadelphian.

Maccarinelli, who lost his WBO belt to David Haye in March, told BBC Sport: "Joe stops him in round nine or 10.

"Hopkins is clever, he's resilient, but I don't think he's ever faced someone like Joe who can throw punches non-stop, which is what Joe does. Hopkins will struggle with that.

"People are saying Joe's catching Hopkins at the right time, that he's past his sell-by date.

"But I don't think he's any better or any worse than he has been. He always read the fight-game well, he's always been a master tactician. It's never been about his speed and his power or his fitness.

"But when has Hopkins beaten a prime fighter? He fought Jermain Taylor at his peak, and lost twice. He fought Roy Jones at his peak and lost."

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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