Boxing: Hopkins has to take on Calzaghe challenge, says Warren

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The Independent Online

Joe Calzaghe's camp have told Bernard Hopkins to put up or shut up. The 42-year-old American responded to Calzaghe's challenge on Monday and declared he is ready to fight the new undisputed world super-middleweight champion, but it could mean tough negotiations.

Hopkins remains a big name in the United States, largely for his exploits as an explosive middleweight champion between 1995 and 2005. But promoter Frank Warren warned Hopkins any deal would have to reflect Calzaghe is now the draw after his weekend victory. And Warren indicated that if Hopkins ducks the fight, it would be because "he knows he will be beaten by Joe Calzaghe."

Warren said: "The ball is in his court. What has he got ahead of him? He has a re-match with Winky Wright, which I am sure Prozac would be queuing up to sponsor, or he has a fight with Chad Dawson which no-one cares about.

"Bernard keeps saying what a big name he is. But is he a big-name fighter? Does he draw crowds like these other fighters? No he doesn't. Taking Joe on means that if there is £100 on the table, he can't take £99 of it. He is not the attraction.

"Joe Calzaghe has had a couple of fights now that have gone out on prime-time American TV and he delivered the goods, against Jeff Lacy and against Kessler. We will go to the States, no problem. It will generate more money here but it is not about that. It is about getting the fight on."

Warren is aiming for a date in March or April and made contact with Hopkins' representatives on Monday.

The BBC secured the rights to a re-run of the Kessler fight on Saturday afternoon, marking the return of boxing to a prime-time BBC1 slot.