Boxing


Joe Calzaghe Interview Transcript - Hopkins/Calzaghe

calzagheFrank Warren: Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening depending where you are. We're really looking forward to this fight. It's as Fred said, it's arguably the two best guys in the last 10, 12 years in world boxing, and they certainly are the best in their respected weight divisions. Joe is stepping up for as we know to fight for the ring belt on the 19th and that is a bit of unknown there for him but he's obviously feeling very comfortable and very confident which I'm sure he'll tell you himself in a moment.

It's Joe's first fight in the states but I think it'll be like fighting at home for him because it seems there's going to be more Brits there than there are supporters for Bernard Hopkins, so it should be a real British atmosphere and I know that all of Britain will be behind him and I think he'll win over a lot of the American fans as well if he hasn't already done after his two performances that we've seen over there with Jeff Lacy and Mikkel Kessler.. Joe's training, again, he'll tell you himself, has gone well. I know he's prepared for this fight and I know that he's in a great frame of mind and it's the fight he's been asking for, it's the fight that he's wanted, and in every time I've promoted Joe when he's wanted a fight, wanted an opponent and we got it for him. He always looks outstanding and that we hope will be the case on the 19. Anyway, we've got Joe on the line so I'm sure we've got lots of questions to ask of him. I think he might have a few before that. Joe, would you like to say a few words?

Joe Calzaghe: Hello. Thank you, thank you. Our fan base will be incredible for me there. I'm looking forward to it, obviously it's my first fight in America in any weight. Yeah, I'm excited. Training has gone good, injury free. I'm looking forward to coming over and hopefully making a great fight. I know Hopkins is very rarely beat in a great fight, but I'll do my best to make it a good spectacle. But either way I think I will win. I have no doubt in my mind that I will win this fight. So like I said, it's been a long time, a good servant to the game, but I'll make sure this fight is his last fight.

Fred Sternburg: Very good Joe. Just a note of reference here, tickets are selling extremely well. I think we've noticed a lot of activity over the past 10 days. Remaining tickets can be purchased by going online at PlanetHollywood.com or calling 866-USFIGHT, F-I-G-H-T. While we're getting reporters in queue to ask questions, Joe, I'll just throw one out at you here. I guess the big question is how has the transition from super middleweight to light heavyweight been for you in training?

Joe Calzaghe: No difference whatsoever at the end of the day. I've not done any weights program, I've not changed anything to what I normally change. The only difference is I'm not up starving myself as much to make 12 stone. 12 stone has always been difficult for me. I honestly believe it drains my punching power. I've always been a big puncher. I think the last few years, not just 103's but make a 12 stone, the last few pounds just make me struggle. So there's nothing, no transition really, just more careful making the weight. My natural weight is about 14 stone, 14 stone, so all I'm doing is getting to 12-7 instead of 12. So until you actually fight you don't really know how things will go, but as far as I'm concerned I'll be better at the weight, I'll be much better. I'll have the punching power, the speed's the same, the speed's no difference. Speed's always there. So actually I'm not sure what we'll see on the night, the speed will be the same no problem, no problem.

Michael Amakor: I followed your career for awhile and I want to know why you're so confident about your fight with Hopkins.

Joe Calzaghe: I'm always confident.

Michael Amakor: Your weight class, you're stepping up. What in your career has prepared you to take on Hopkins?

Joe Calzaghe: I'm always confident no matter who I fight. I'm a winner, a champion, undefeated for 17 years, well 18 years this year. So if you can't be confident in your own ability after being undefeated many years, you're never going to be confident. Regardless if I'm fighting Hopkins or anybody else, I've always got the same confidence whether it be Lacy, whether it be Mikkel Kessler, at the end of the day, I don't go where he goes and so on, I look at the guy who's 43 and the guy who's lost four fights.

He's obviously – me going to America is his only chance because he has American ref – the judge is an American referee, but I rise up to every challenge and the harder the challenge the better the performance. So it's the same as always, I'm 100% confident I'm going to win this fight. I think I would have beaten him 10 years ago and I would beat him now. Joe Calzaghe's better than Bernard Hopkins.

Bob Velin, USA Today: Do you expect Hopkins to try to fight you, try to go toe to toe with you or do you expect him to run around the ring? And if that happens, what will you do?

Joe Calzaghe: Well obviously a lot of people, I think Americans don't realize what I can do. I can box and fight, so I adapt to whatever means I need to do in the fight. Maybe he'll run from me, maybe when he's losing and stops trying to fight, who knows. He's very good at what he does. He can be a bit of a dirty fighter as well, and I've seen him – he ties you up on the inside, you can throw the shoulder in, he's very clever. I'm a southpaw so he's going to probably look for my right then, the obvious punch to throw against a southpaw, but I know he's beaten quite a few southpaws, but obviously as you will find out, I'm a totally different southpaw to anything he fought before. So listen, I just go in there with – I just concentrate on what I'm going to do, I don't care what he's going to do. Whatever he's got I've got better. So not a problem, I can fight, box, I should imagine the fight will have a boxing match and a fight in there. It will be both. It's going to be both.

Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated:You mentioned about 10 years ago this probably would have been a really big marquis fight. I'm wondering besides a hefty paycheck, what is your motivation for taking this fight against Hopkins?

Joe Calzaghe: Well, new challenge basically. I've always said if you get a fight as a light heavyweight it would be nice, and a fight in the states, and obviously going out and watching the tremendous support, he had enough. I thought, well it kind of is the end of my career, it'd be a shame never to experience it first hand yourself. So that's basically it. Fighting in America and challenging myself, it'd be great when the few Brits go over and succeed. So that in itself is cool for me and it's worth getting me excited. It's not just about fighting for money. At the end of the day you'd be willing to get paid money, but maybe boxing what, 26 years when you're fighting, it takes a lot for me to get excited these days.

Kessler gets me excited, Lacy got me excited, so nothing in super middleweight at the moment interests me, so hence me going up to fight at 175.


Chris Mannix: You think beating a guy like Hopkins at this point in his career does anything for your legacy for your career?

Joe Calzaghe: Of course it does. Early in the day, it's a challenge in itself to go to America and to win. At the end of the day you – let's face it, I'm going outside my comfort zone, and at the end of the day you're the Golden Boy fighter, so at the end of the day I have to not just go there and win, I have to go there and win a proper win.

I have to go there and dominate. And that's a difficult task to do against somebody like Hopkins. At the end of the day I know you say he's 42, 43, but he's still an excellent fighter. You can't take that away from him. Look at his last two fights, he has won comfortably. The guy can still fight – he's a very good fighter. The two fights against Taylor were disputed decisions, so you can make a case to say his last loss was to Roy Jones all those years ago. So he's still a very good fighter.

Dan Rafael: You talked a little bit so far in the call about coming to America and all that, and that's been discussed for a long time as far as I can remember going back five, six, eight years ago they've talked about when will Joe Calzaghe come to the United States and fight. Can you talk about your motivation to finally make it happen and what was the motivation of your desire to come here and fight? Because you have done so well in your home country, drawn so many big crowds, obviously made good money and add a million defenses.

Joe Calzaghe: Well obviously, opponents matter. I come to fight – the fight in Jeff Lacy, he's been fighting seven weeks back, he'll be here it says it all. Because it's difficult to motivate yourself for an opponent who you don't really worry about and you end up performing, go fight a great fighter against Jeff Lacy and fight somebody else to be honest in hindsight was a decent opponent. He's a tough guy, but I struggled. I mean I struggled because in my mind I wasn't fighting for the fight at all. So you're not worried and you're training and not bothered about certain opponents and that's when fighters are more likely to get beat. So the way I look at it is I need to fight somebody that I can get motivated for and middleweight, there's nobody at all there. So after Kessler, like I said, going over there and to win in his back yard with everything in his own circumstances as regards to the weight, he wants me to come out and fight in the location on the date, I'm going to be there. And that in itself, I'm challenging myself also, and that's a saying of a true champion.

Franklin McNeil, Newark Star Ledger: You said something a little earlier that kind of perked my interest here. You talk about Hopkins and we all do know this, but you talk about Hopkins. He can do a lot of – I don't want to use the word dirty, but he can do some things, and I guess dirty is the right word, in the ring especially when the referee can't see. He can hit you whatever, whatever. Have you ever fought anyone who – that you can say, "Hey I fought a guy who did that type of stuff to me, so when Hopkins does it or if he does it, you'll be prepared for it?"

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah I've fought some dirty fighters in my time, I've almost been boxing for 25 years. So at the end of the day I've fought fighters that hit on the break and hit me low and use the shoulder and the head. So obviously I've done that but I'm not going in there for a wrestling or for an MMA fight. I'm going into a boxing match. So at the end of the day, all I want is a fair referee who will take notice of obviously when he throws his head in behind his punches. You have to have faith in the system at the end of the day. Obviously we say when your back's against the ropes, you're going to resort even more to them sort of tactics. But I can't worry about that. I just have to worry about what I do and make sure that I don't get myself in a situation where I'm there for him to put his shoulder or his head onto my head. I have to box a very smart, clever fight, and I'm capable of doing that as I've shown in the past. It's just making sure I go in that ring with the right mindset of boxing my fight, not getting drawn into his fight when the things will probably turn out to be a bit dirty.

Dan Rafael, ESPN.com: I wanted to finish a couple of questions about coming to the United States to fight. I wonder at what point in your career did you think it was going to be a realistic possibility that you would come here, and when did you decide that you wanted to make that happen?

Joe Calzaghe: Maybe a year ago. I can't name exactly, I was not really that concerned. But mainly after the Kessler fight. After the Kessler fight I had to sit down and say, "How am I going to sit better this moment?" And to finish my career off with meaningful fights, meaningful for myself, that's something that gets me excited. And I suppose going out so watching it and being confronted by Hopkins with his comments. I love them. People say I was upset or offended. No I was not offended by white guy and all this bullshit, I'm not bothered. My skin is thicker than that, I'm not bothered. I know it's all part of the game. But he's a smart guy and that sold the fight. So one I saw, obviously, even going into the weigh in and seeing the tremendous reception the rookie got, it's incredible, absolutely incredible. You know the sight of all the thousands, thousands of fans, it's just brilliant and I had a buzz off that and a I wanted to get a bit of that before I retired because there's one thing missing really from my record.


Dan Rafael: Joe, how many people do you expect – I'm sorry, how many people do you…

Joe Calzaghe: It's thousands, thousands. Obviously I know how to thank them before they get a better number than me, but I'm sure everyone I speak to, I think they become – people coming to the fight that don't even come to my fight in college. So I think everybody wanted to go there for a good presser and the party but yeah, loads of people are coming up. There's going to be pressure but I love pressure. That's where I perform is when I've got pressure. So I just want to make sure that I give not just for UK fans but American fans. At the end of the day I look at it – a lot of American fans like my style and I can show them as well that I'm an excellent fighter.

Robert Morales, LA Daily News: Two quick questions; People talk about you leading up to light heavyweight, but I'm wondering; could you be perhaps more of a light heavyweight than Bernard because really up until the last couple of fights he fought for his entire career, a long career at 160 pounds. He's not a big guy. So in that case, I don't really see an issue with the weight. Do you agree with that, that you're at least as big as he is?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah that's a great point because that's the point that I've also stated is that people seem to forget I've fought big guys, I've fought guys six foot four, and Mikkel kessler, the massive, biggest super middleweight I've probably ever seen. He's got a body like a cruiserweight. I would say he's definitely bigger than Hopkins. People seem to forget that you most pay most of his career at middleweight, the weight below me, so he's not a big guy. He's probably the same as me, maybe a little bit taller, so I don't think it's really going to make much of a difference.

Robert Morales: And I agree with that in that regard. And one more thing Joe, a lot of friends that I have that are boxing friends and everything, they ask me what I think about you and I tell them. And they say, "Yeah but you know he's never fought in the United States." And of course I know that's been a big issue. How much do you care what the American fans think and the fact that you have not fought here yet? Is that important to you?


Joe Calzaghe: I don't know. What's the right answer for that one? Okay. It'll be a fight worth recognition, not just from his own people but from all fans, from all the world. So of course it's important to me to get fans in the states and to be recognized and maybe obviously some people are ignorant to fighters in Britain and Europe.

So is it another, like I said, another task for me to come over there and beat the best fighter in the world from Wales. Not England, Wales.

Chris Murray, Philadelphia Tribune: Hello, how do you explain Bernard Hopkins' mastery of southpaw fighters? Without maybe divulging your particular strategy, how do you explain how this guy tends to be so good against southpaw fighters?

Joe Calzaghe: How many southpaws has he boxed?

Chris Murray: I think he's boxed at least – I'm thinking about 10, 11 of them, yeah.

Joe Calzaghe: Well I think I boxed 37 right-handers. So at the end of the day, so you've beaten eight, nine southpaws, but I've beaten 37 right-handers. So that must mean I'm better with right-handers than he is with lefties. At the end of the day, he hasn't fought me. When you talk about left-handers, you're talking about southpaws, and told them about some of that myself. Is it going to be a completely different thing altogether? I'm a Winky Wright, whose blown up light middleweight, and we just got into a shell. As you're going to see, I'm not Antonio Tarver. So as regards to how he performed with southpaws in the past, I couldn't care if he knocked them all out in the first round because things are going to be totally different when he steps in with me as you're going to see on the 19th.

Chris Murray: He's such a defensive fighter. How do you propose to kind of get him to fight – or can you get him to fight your particular style? Because Bernard tends to go in all kinds of angles and he tends to be a lot more defensive. He's not going to necessarily I guess be aggressive coming out at you.

Joe Calzaghe: Well he's going to have to come out eventually because I feel, 100% feel there's no way he can beat me. He can't outbox me and he can't outfight me. So eventually if he's going to go defensive like Winky Wright, I'm going to outbox him. Now if he comes to the side he's going to get beat on the inside. Seriously, I am so relaxed about this fight, I can't tell how confident I am. I'm going to win this fight. I don't have a strategy, I just go in there and do my thing. Nothing more to say. When I'm in a fight, I do what's best for me. So I'll go in there and just box as I usually box. I'll be aggressive and see where we go from there. Maybe he might stand toe to toe, he might run, he might look for the big right-hander, who knows, who cares? At the end of the day I'm just going to go there and do what I always do and it'll be enough.

Steve Carp, Las Vegas Review Journal: When will you be arriving in Las Vegas? What day?

Joe Calzaghe: I'm coming to Vegas on Saturday, the 5th of April.

Steve Carp: Saturday the 5th of April, very good. You talked about the judges and the referees earlier. Does it give you comfort to know that Joe Cortez who I believe worked your fight with Chris Eubank a few years ago will be the third man in the ring and that he's a veteran referee? Does that give you some peace of mind?

Joe Calzaghe: Oh yeah of course. I have the utmost respect for Joe Cortez. Good omen. He refereed me like you said, the Chris Eubank, and obviously he's a very stern guy and knows his job and is I'm very, very happy with him refereeing the fight, yes.

Steve Carp: Yeah because like you said, Hopkins is known to do some things inside the ring that aren't "kosher" shall we say, and I would think you want to have a referee who is a veteran and is aware of those things, correct?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah of course. And we like to say with (Joe Cortez), he's so experienced, you have to be very clever to get something past him and he doesn't take any shit in the ring. So that's what you want. You want a referee who is going to allow you to fight up to the rules. And yeah, like I said I'm every happy with his appointment.

Hugh MacDonald Herald Newspaper: I would like to talk just a bit about the dynamic between you and your father. Apparently at one time there was a situation that you should leave your father to go on in boxing. Is this true and how has he helped you in achieving so many goals?

Joe Calzaghe: Oh yeah. At the end of the day if it wasn't for my dad I wouldn't be where I am today as far as boxing at night. He motivated me, took me to the gym, taught me the basics in my teenage years. When you want a knock on the head and you want to go out with your friends and do this, he kicked me in the ass and kept me on a straightened arrow.

And I owe it all to him. There was a time as a pro when I had some bad fights and people from outside were sort of criticizing him and even myself. I was thinking about getting another trainer in as well for awhile, but after a few months I knew I couldn't do that. Because whatever happened in my career, I owe everything to him to where I've got to.

And thank God I stayed with dad, and he's proven not just with me, with the other boys that he's made world champions, trainer of the year. He's a fantastic trainer, he's alright, and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Hugh MacDonald: Was that one of your most pleasing aspects, for your dad to get some recognition as a great trainer as well voted trainer of the year?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah it's fantastic. For so long he never really got the recognition because he didn't have any really boxing experience. But he doesn't necessarily have to be – some fighters are fighting all their life, some make good trainers. It doesn't work all the time with that, but he is a tremendous motivator and has a tremendous knowledge of boxing and always knows (unintelligible) fighters.

So yeah, when our gym got stronger and stronger, Bradley Price and Gavin Reese, my dad trained them since age nine for the amateurs. And the same with myself, come from a small town until the ABA built up, and I think Bradley's potential unintelligible and obviously Gavin unfortunately lost his title the other day but nobody can take away the fact that he won a world title.

And you can't deny obviously him the other day, the other week but I'm sure he will definitely come back stronger than ever. For myself personally, it's great that he's getting the recognition. He deserves it. He put so much hard work in himself. He's so devoted to the sport. Obviously he doesn't just train me, he trains about eight of the pros, so of course he deserves everything he gets. I'm very proud of him.

David Anderson, The Daily Mirror: I just wanted to know, have you spoken to Ricky Hatton yet about sort of running tips and going to America and then Vegas for the big show? Or do you plan to speak to Ricky about any experience?

Joe Calzaghe: No I haven't spoken to Ricky, but I talked to him for awhile back. We obviously don't need it a week before, because it takes at least two weeks to sort of acclimate. But like anything, I think every individual has their own way of dealing with things. You can't tell somebody the way you should regarding the pressure and going to another place. I've always felt like I've got a personality where I'm comfortable with adapting to any situation I'm in and I've always felt like we travel well. And obviously I need to prove that but I've always felt that we travel well. And I'm actually excited about going away. Number one because obviously it's fucking freezing and it hasn't started raining yet, so I'm looking forward to training with some sun on my back. And number two, it's like I said, I am anything they told me to was going out before. You've got certain people that said three weeks before. But there's absolutely no way I go three weeks before any case. I've got my kids and I think three weeks is too long. Especially fighting old man, three weeks, I think two weeks is plenty of time to beat this old man. If I can't beat this old man I'll retire and I won't show my face in public ever again.

David Anderson: Have you taken Ricky's advice of how to play this rather than stay in a hotel and run a risk of picking up bugs from their conditions?

Joe Calzaghe: To be honest I think that's just common sense. I do suffer some if I stay in a hotel for a day I'm troubled my breathing and all that. So that obviously makes sense to get a place and I want to be left alone. I'm not one of these people that likes to have an open workout if I don't have to or speak to a million people if I don't have to.

One thing you have to do is be concentrated on the job at hand which is the fight. So I like a lot of my own time, so the good thing I think we got a place that's nice and quiet, so luckily for me I've got Bradley coming out and Nathan so I can do some sparring with them and obviously keep yourself relaxed and everything. So we are trying to keep things as normal as possible and do the same sort of routine that I would do at home with regards to the running, the making the weight.

Obviously I've got to lose so much weight but I still have to lose weight. Just keep thinking it's normal, really. I don't really want to be going to the casinos and hotels and be mobbed all the time. That's one thing you don't want to do. I keep myself nice and relaxed because obviously the more relaxed, the easier it is going to be to get in the ring. I don't need any tension and start a game wrong and stuff.

Chris Roberts, The Daily Record: Just on the subject of Mackie recently and he said that your father should be given a knighthood. Would you go along with those words?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah why not? Yeah I think so. I think he should be. I think he should be, why not? To be honest, they give them out pretty easily, so why shouldn't he have one?

Chris Roberts: Boxers don't tend to get recognized like that.

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah they don't, but either way, but yeah I don't really think that people say that but myself about what, but I don't know.

Chris Roberts: Yeah…yeah. Bernard Hopkins obviously talking a good game; he went on to say that you might be cute but he's going to give you a facelift.

Joe Calzaghe: He's the one that needs the facelift. He's the ugly one. I think he's got it ass backwards, what happened? People get facelifts when they're ugly, not when they're already good looking. So I don't know what he's working at but he needs the facelift. I've really struggled to make him look any uglier than he is. He's ugly, his nose is flat across his face. It'd be very difficult. But you know it's the ones that look pretty good you worry about? One with a face those things like that. You don't worry about. So much for a great defense. He must have walked into a lamppost to get a nose like that. That's all I can say.

Mike Houser, Nevada Appeal: Assuming you win this fight, will there be any big enough fights to get you back to the states? And if you do win this fight, will you stay at light heavy?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah well to be honest I'm not sure. I'm not sure, I take one fight at a time. To be honest I would prefer to stay at light heavyweight. What's the point in killing myself to make it to middleweight again? I'm only looking to fight another fight after this and I've basically ruled the super middleweight division for into my 11 year. I've beaten the most dangerous fighters out there. The last guy I beat I think will go on, Kessler, that is will go on and win the title is when I relinquish. But the options there. Like I said, I'm still a super middleweight champion and I'm soon to be light heavyweight ring champion. And like I always say, I'm not thinking ahead of this fight, I'm just thinking about April the 19 and winning the fight. And after April the 19, then I'll think of the next step. But I've not really thought about it, not even opponents. I've not even thought about what's happening after this because this is a massive fight. The same as before the Kessler fight, I wasn't thinking of Hopkins before Kessler. So just one fight at a time. At this stage in my career, like I said, unintelligible, you just take it one fight at a time. Just put everything into one fight.

Mike Houser: Okay. And another take on Hopkins, I'm trying to make light of his racial remarks, but what does that reflect on him as a promoter? This guy will have to bring fighters in, maybe white fighters, and it's kind of degrading. What do you think? What kind of promoter is this guy saying stuff like that?

Joe Calzaghe: I don't know. Probably got a white trainer in the corner as well. Honestly I don't think he is a racist. I think he said a stupid remark that made himself look stupid. He looked embarrassed when he was asked the question in London. I don't really care. As I had said, the same amount won't happen the other way around. But honestly, I don't really care for his remarks. I don't know the guy, I don't really care about him, and I know I'm going to beat him. So he's the one who's going to look stupid after the fight.

Franklin McNeil Newark Star Ledger: I just wanted to follow up on something. Your style, you pretty much can be a rapid firer, you can throw a lot of punches, but Bernard likes to wait and kind of counterpunch. As far as styles, why is your style more – is a better style for this type of fight? Why will you be in a better position going in because of the way you fight?

Joe Calzaghe: Well I throw more punches. Throw more punches, land more punches. That's what it comes down to. That's the basics of boxing, to land more and punch more. Plus I just hope he's got a Jeff Lacy mentality and thinks that I slap, I don't hit hard because he's in for a big shock. But believe me, he's going to be feeling the power.


Franklin McNeil: Do you think his age – you throwing so many punches will force him to fight more than he would like to? And will age at that point be a factor in wearing him out?

Joe Calzaghe: I don't know about age, I don't really think about his age. And I'm aiming, I always throw the first punches. But in this fight, he's going to be probably moving a lot and looking to land the chuck over the top, the right hand against the southpaw, so I'm just going to – I'm aiming to sit on my punches a bit more to hurt him. I will use the speed, but I'll definitely mix things up with the power punches with the added weight I've got with this, I've definitely noticed that I'm punching harder in the gym. So I want to knock him out. So I'm throwing just around a thousand punches or four thousand punches, I want to go in there and use the speed and work him but also slow some punches down where obviously I get some proper power in them because I just don't want to win this fight, I want to knock him out.

Eduardo Ohata,Folha De St. Paulo: Mr. Calzaghe, you British champions don't have the support or you have a fanatic. Thousands go watch your fights and are very, very vocal. How do you explain this kind of support?

Joe Calzaghe: It's amazing. The best supporters in the world, what can I say? I'm just very lucky to come from it and I can't explain it. There's not been anywhere else in the world, you wouldn't get 10,000 Americans ever come over to the UK to watch a boxing fight no matter how big you are. So it's just awesome. It's an advantage being a British fighter in a way because on your way, what you need is to feel like you're away from home, home from home, and what better than to get your British fans there in their numbers. And when you walk out the arena to have a tremendous reception, money can't buy that. So it's just great, it's the best support in the world. What can I say?

Eduardo Ohata: Mr. Calzaghe, with this kind of support, do you think that you British are bringing something that is disappearing in boxing?

Joe Calzaghe: Really just bringing tremendous support to show the world how to support fighters. It's great in Britain and all. I suppose in a lot of sports the British are struggling in football and so on, and everything else. But boxing has never been so big in the UK. It's been televised right across the channels now and I think we all pick the same old champions. So it is brilliant, it's made my career. But since I've been boxing I don't think boxing has ever been as big as it is now, this moment, and obviously shown through the tremendous support just coming out and watching the fighters.

Eddie Goldman: The question I have regards age. When I asked Bernard Hopkins at the news conference about age and he's 43, how is this going to affect you, he shot back and he said, "Well how old are you?" And of course you just turned 36, happy birthday by the way. Tell me how you think this is going to affect the fight because at this age of 43, Hopkins does obviously not fight three minutes of every round. But how do you see this affecting the fight as it'll go on?

Joe Calzaghe: To be honest I've really not really paid any attention to his age. I don't look at a guy and say hey I'm fighting a 43 year old. I'm training to the fight the best Bernard Hopkins can be. So I've not really thought anything, but I suppose a normal 43 year old just cannot fight for three minutes a round. He's only human at the end of the day. Although he's in tremendous shape for 43, he's not going to have the same stamina as myself and that doesn't have anything to do with age. I think any age that he's going to be he'd struggle to keep up with a well creative style. I've never seen him throw a thousand punches in a fight. But what he makes up for his smartness. He's very smart in the way he fights. So that itself is going to be tough. He's from the street against Winky the last fight. He moved very well. He moved very well and he used the right shots at the right time obviously and that's how he beat Winky Wright. But he surely retained in a lot of that good movement. His work rate wasn't bad, still a pretty good work rate. So I'm not really thinking about age. I'm no spring chicken myself at 36 but I believe I can still fight the way I've always fought and the same as you'll probably go in this fight thinking he's as good as ever, so let's wait and see.

Eddie Goldman: How well preserved do you think you are? Because for about the last ten years you've been averaging about two fights a year rather than fighting much more often.

Joe Calzaghe: Well look at my face, it tells you doesn't it? At the end of the day somebody is going to stand there and get your head smashed in. At the end of the day I'm pretty good, even in ugly fights. I always seem to come out right. I also when after a fight I don't, I haven't been smashed up thank God. I've been blessed, so boxing's an art. At the end of the day it's just stand there and get your head smashed in. At the end of the day I'm pretty good even in ugly fights. I always seem to come out on top. So I'm just also – right after a fight I don't really go to the gym for a few months. So maybe that's preserved me a bit as well, but after fights although I train really, really hard when I'm in the gym and 12 weeks before the fight, I forget about boxing. I'm not one of these guys in the gym who just eats and breathes boxing. I'm a few months away with my family and my kids and do other interests, and then I start to get a desire to want to train. I want to fight. I want to get in shape. And to be honest, I think that's to do with the longevity and wanting me to keep going and keeping me fresh, keep me excited about it. I don't know if that makes any sense.

Dan Rafael ESPN: Joe, I will ask you another question, taking a follow up on some of the questions that Eddie was asking you. He made a good point about Bernard Hopkins being a little bit older and even when he was a younger guy he was never really one to fight a full three minutes of every round. Have you gone back and watched any videos of his previous fights to maybe see an opponent that was at least similar to you because he has fought so many left handed fighters and noticed that sort of lack of activity and how he sort of picks his spots, when to fight which is really the opposite of what you do which is as you have mentioned throw so many punches?

Joe Calzaghe: No. Do you know what? This is no disrespect for Hopkins as a fighter. I've watched him a couple of times. Number one is because you can watch an opponent fight and you only fight as good as an opponent lets you fight. So he hasn't fought anybody – the southpaws he's boxed have not been like my style. So I watched obviously the Tarver fight with Jones, and basically I've seen the Winky Wright fight. But I've said, I've never spread the opponents. I've never ever done it with Kessler or anybody else and good fighters. I watch about two, three fights of somebody then I watch it once. And that's something I've always done. I've never been one that used to go hours do this and this and do that. I watched it a couple of times and that's all I need to see. I watched him in Tarver, I watched him in his last fight against Winky Wright and I wasn't impressed, no. So I think I can stop him.

I honestly believe in my heart I'll stop him unless he can prove for once in his last fight. And that's a reach. So, at the end of the day, you're older.

Dan Rafael: I wanted to ask you one other question. You were talking a little about how great a time this has been for British boxing with so many different fighters winning titles and the improved television coverage and whatnot. Your father has trained many of the good fighters besides yourself, Gavin Reese and some of the other guys that have had titles over the last couple years. Those guys have lost their titles. If I'm not mistaken, you're the last champion left in your father's stable after a couple of tough losses over the last couple of months. Has that brought the mood down in the gym at all a little bit or do you feel like you're carrying the torch for your father who's ironically the trainer of the year this year? What's his mindset going into this having had his other champions lose?

Joe Calzaghe: Nothing. No, nothing has changed. His spirits are still high. I've actually sparred with him the other day. He's frustrated and he's more – what we are down there, listen, fighters lose. That's the way it is. My dad's record of undefeated fighters going back for like two years I think is unbelievable, unbelievable. And obviously it's all going to come to an end, it's disappointing. Bear in mind they were underdogs going into the fights, especially with Enzo because he definitely didn't perform like he could have and he was – excuse me, but he was ill and nearly pulled out three, four days before. He took a risk, went into the fight, and he made a big mistake. He should never have been in that ring that night. But I'm sure we will come back. The spirits are still high. You've seen Gavin, my dad's spirits are still high. So at the end of the day, I'm not just saying it, but they're not me. I've been champion for into my 11 year, so I've seen fighters win and fighters lose, friends of mine going over the years and people come and go retire. And so that is not a problem, it's not a problem. Spirits are not low in the gym, confidence is still as high as it's always been, and the vibe of the other fighters is still buzzing. So no, nothing's changed. Disappointing couple of weeks but hey, that's boxing.

Michael Woods: I'm interested from your perspective Joe on Hopkins psychological warfare. He's been ramping it up more in recent fights. He played the race card a couple months ago. I'm curious to know from you. Do you believe he does that to try to get inside opponents' head or is he doing that to try to sell the fight, to hype the fight?

Joe Calzaghe: I think he tries to get into opponents' heads. I think he tries to get into your head a bit. I've seen him do it in the past. But believe me, he's barking up the wrong tree with me. I'm actually more experienced than he is. He's older but I've been fighting longer. So it may work against a 22 year old kid who's in awe, it's a big fight. So I've actually enjoyed some of the comments he's made to me coming from an adult. So yeah, he tries to always be – like I said, he's barking up the wrong tree with me. I'm sure he'll try some things coming up at the press conference and maybe some little tricks like he did. But he won't be very careful.

Don't try punching me in the face like he did with Winky Wright because I don't get into that before the fight. But that's the way it goes. I suppose I think more so like I said. More so that he tries to get in your head and I think he thinks that he actually got into my head. It's amusing.

Michael Woods: Yeah his latest thing is he's talking about that he's prepared to die in the ring. Some guys can say that and when they fight a certain style it's believable. Bernard is more of a safety first guy. That's not exactly the way he fights. So he seems to have to switched tactics. He went with the race card now he talks about how he's willing to die in the ring. Does it help sell the fight also?

Joe Calzaghe: Yeah of course it helps sell the fight. The other day he didn't play the race card, he didn't come up to me and challenge me at the press when I was in America. Maybe this fight is going to be made. Nobody wants to see two guys shake each others' hands and go oh you're a great fighter, yeah you're a great fighter too. Always have a great fight. People don't want to see that. They want to see their controversy and a bad guy and so on. No, let him play the bad guy. But listen, I've been boxing like I said for 26 years, and by my experience, dogs are bad; don't bite. The loud one in the room is not one you want to worry about. It's the ones that are quiet are the ones I get worried about. So he brings nothing in the ring and he brings nothing outside the ring that I haven't seen before. So I'll let him carry on and keep barking and keep barking because come fight night I'm going to be the bad guy, I promise on that.

Article posted on 04.04.2008



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