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Hopkins-Calzaghe on April 12 close to done

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Source: BBC Sport

Ring Magazine champions Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe are close to a deal that would pit the two of them against one another on April 12, in Las Vegas.

It would be Calzaghe's first fighting trip to the States, and the already-agreed upon 50/50 split purse is the largest of his career. Calzaghe (44-0, 32 KO) is coming off of what many feel to be his best win yet, a 12-round unanimous decision victory against top 168-pound contender Mikkel Kessler.

As for Hopkins, it continues a strong line of opponents for the Canastota-bound, 42-year old Philadelphia native. After two tight losses to Jermain Taylor at middleweight, Hopkins bypassed the super middleweight division en route to embarrassing Antonio Tarver to win the light heavyweight title in 2006. Last year, he fought just once, beating Winky Wright at a catchweight of 170 pounds.

I think it's a fight most of us want to see, and it's intriguing on a lot of levels. Hopkins has to look his age in the ring at some point, doesn't he? That said, he's a master craftsman, a brilliant player of the headgame, and even at his age, he is possibly the best fighter Calzaghe has ever faced. (I'm not saying that Bernard Hopkins isn't "the best fighter" Calzaghe has faced, but that at 42, he may not be Bernard Hopkins.)

For Calzaghe, it's a first trip across the pond, a chance to prove on American soil just how good he is. Win or lose, I'm a firm believer in Calzaghe's skills at this point. He ended all of my doubts with his textbook defeat of Kessler. Like Hopkins-Wright, this is two chess masters going to battle. Calzaghe and Hopkins are as bright and intelligent as they come once the bell rings. Those two, along with Wright and Mayweather, would be my picks for the four smartest boxers in the world. They never get rattled. Actually, the only time I can remember Winky getting rattled in the ring was against Hopkins.

It's also a fight that pits two guys that are top five for most in pound-for-pound rankings. This is a superfight, and will be one of the biggest of the year.

If I had to pick a winner right now, I'd go with Calzaghe. He's younger, on fresher legs, and is closer to his optimum fighting weight than Hopkins is. Plus I just don't know how even Hopkins is going to deal with the constant pressure that Calzaghe brings. Even those that slam Calzaghe for "slapping" punches have to admit that that much action is tough for any fighter to deal with, even if they aren't getting hurt, and punches landing will win rounds.

Here's looking forward to this one, and I must say I'm moderately surprised at how relatively smoothly the talks have reportedly been going. Given that we're dealing with Hopkins, his team, and Frank Warren, it's something of a late Christmas miracle.

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