Boxing: Calzaghe turns up heat in war of words with 'legend' Hopkins

Joe Calzaghe has intensified his war of words with a potential opponent, Bernard Hopkins, questioning whether the American "has the balls" to fight him.

The Welshman called out Hopkins immediately after he unified the super-middleweight division by beating Mikkel Kessler at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in the early hours of last Sunday morning. Hopkins, 42, then said he would love to fight in the US. Calzaghe's promoter, Frank Warren, said the "ball is in his court".

Calzaghe, 35, who was yesterday presented with a Lonsdale belt by the Prince of Wales in a ceremony at Cardiff castle, said: "He [Hopkins] claims to be a legend but to be a legend you have to be beat the top fighters – who has he beaten?"

Calzaghe said Antonio Tarver was "over the hill" when he met Hopkins and that other opponents, such as Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad, were "little men". He added: "He should fight a proper fighter who will fight back. Let's see if he has the balls. I'm happy to go over there to fight him. I'll go to Vegas or Madison Square Garden and sort him out."

Hopkins pulled out of a 2003 fight with Calzaghe after allegedly doubling his purse demands at the last minute.

Before yesterday's presentation, Prince Charles talked to Calzaghe about the rigours of having to lose weight ahead of his fights and related it to his own experience while playing polo.

"Fighting is easy," Calzaghe said. "Making the weight is the hardest part. My natural weight is 14st and I've put a stone and a half on after the fight."

The Prince also spent time talking to one of Calzaghe's stablemates, the WBA light-welterweight champion Gavin Rees, who also hails from the Newbridge area of South Wales.

Calzaghe said: "It's been a fantastic week. It is great to be here and I'm enjoying every minute of it. So much hard work was put into training and winning on Saturday night. This is a great honour."

The Lonsdale belt presented to Calzaghe will not join his collection, which includes the WBC, WBA and WBO belts. It will be retained by the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame.

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