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Calzaghe: “Bad things happen to people who mouth off to me”

By John Dower: Undefeated WBA/WBC/WBO super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe (44-0, 32 KOs) is failing to let his wily opponent light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins (48-4-1, 32 KOs) with his latest rounds of trash talking and pointed insults. Calzaghe, 35, who has held the WBO super middleweight title for the past 10 years without one defeat or draw, is well conditioned to the typical insults and mind games that Hopkins is bringing into this their April 19th scheduled bout at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Calzaghe had this to say about Hopkins’ psychological warfare:

“Bad things happen to people who mouth off to me. They get paid back. Come April 19, I’m going to smash him up. It’s about me going over there and kicking his a**e. He’ll need a facelift when I’m finished with him.”

Hopkins, 43, seemed to be looking for an extra edge weeks ago when he immediately said that he’d never be beaten by a white boy.

For some boxing fans, they were shocked by this statement, not knowing that Hopkins often goes for the jugular in trying to upset his opponents. Case in point, in a press conference in New York city in July 2001, to publicize his bout with Felix Trinidad, Hopkins grabbed a Puerto Rican flag from the hands of Trinidad, and promptly threw it to the ground. Instead of staying calm, and seeing it as Hopkins trying to get him upset, Trinidad was irate, promising to knock Hopkins down in their bout. It didn’t happen, however, as Trinidad fought angrily in the early rounds, uncharacteristically missing a lot of shots, and was eventually stopped in the 12th round.

Of course, a lot of things have happened since then, as Hopkins, 43, isn’t the same fighter physically as he was back then, even though he’s had two impressive wins – against Winky Wright and Antonio Tarver – in his last two fights. Unfortunately, his two fights previous to them, both losses to Jermain Taylor, would seem to indicate a slippage in Hopkins ability.

His win over Tarver, 38 at the time, is less impressive than it normally would because Tarver isn’t nearly as skilled offensively as Calzaghe, 35, or Jermain Taylor. The same goes for Wright, who mainly throws a jab and little else. Against a skilled fighter like Hopkins, Wright and Tarver were at a clear cut disadvantage due to their lack of handspeed and offensive fire power.

Hopkins, however, is going to continue to try to work the mind games, hoping that he can get Calzaghe questioning himself just a little so that he can get enough of an edge to pull out a victory. In an ideal case, Calzaghe will be so angered at Hopkins by fight time, he’ll try disparately to knock him our or, at the minimum, try and slug with him like Calzaghe did with Sakio Bika in his bout with him in October 2006.

If Hopkins can get Calzaghe going for a KO, he may find it hard to make adjustments later on when he discovers that it’s not working. In his bout with Bika, Calzaghe had a difficult time changing his game plan, after initially trying to slug with the more powerful Bika. By the time that Calzaghe started to box, around the 8th round, he was badly marked up around his face from the roughhouse tactics of Bika.

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