Joe Calzaghe's meeting with Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas on 19 April promises much and the hype is already living up to expectation two months ahead of schedule after the Welshman yesterday declared he would end Hopkins' career and make himself a "legend" in the process.
Calzaghe moves up to challenge for Hopkins' Ring Magazine light-heavyweight belt after 10 years as the WBO super-middleweight champion and he used yesterday's London press conference to state: "This will be Bernard's last fight – I'm going to be a legend after this fight. I'm going over there to win and you will see an awesome performance. I've trained like a challenger every single fight, that's why I've been a champion for 10 years. I'll be in the best shape, enough to do 15, 20 rounds."
Calzaghe has no intention of fighting on into his forties like Hopkins – and put a limit of "roughly two more fights" on a career in which he has been unbeaten since his last amateur defeat 17 years ago. "Physically, I think I can fight until I'm 40," he continued, "but it's mentally you have to motivate yourself and I've run out of big names to fight."
After outclassing the big American hope Jeff Lacy and crushing the Contender TV reality show star Peter Manfredo Jnr, Calzaghe had nothing more to prove at 12st after also securing the WBC and WBA titles with his big points win over Mikkel Kessler in his last fight.
"I beat Lacy, Manfredo and Kessler and now it's Bernard Hopkins," Calzaghe added. "Hopkins is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters – but I think Kessler was a better fighter than him.
"I don't just keep fighting for the money – it's about being the best and fighting to win. I want to be like Rocky Marciano and retire undefeated. Not many fighters can say that.
"Win this fight at light-heavy and one more maybe, that will be it. That's what I call legendary."
Meanwhile,Hopkins insists age is no barrier, adding: "Look at the last two fights. I've still kept that mentality of a hungry man. That's the mentality I've always had. Once I lose that, I am done. I'm 43 and Joe will be 36 in March so he's no spring chicken, either," Hopkins added.