by Mark Mayer | After 21 successful title defenses, Joe Calzaghe makes his United States debut in a fight he wanted six years ago. Finally, future boxing hall of famer Bernard Hopkins faces Calzaghe in a light heavyweight bout at the Thomas & Mack Center. Fight time is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. PT and will be televised live on HBO.
Hopkins, at age 43, is the quintessential Philadelphia fighter with 20 years of pro experience. His record of 48-4-1 with 32 knockouts has been highlighted in recent years with victories over Felix Trinidad, Oscar de la Hoya, Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright. Known as the "Executioner," Hopkins has excelled as a counter puncher and heavy hitter with either hand.
Calzaghe, despite his stellar 44-0 record and 32 knockouts, is still a bit of a mystery in this country. At 35, the super middleweight moves up in class for a shot at Hopkins in a matchup the native of Wales tried and failed to get six years ago. Calzaghes most recent victory came over Michael Kessler in a result that unified the super middleweight title.
The bout is the first venture for Planet Hollywood, which was the site for the weigh-in and pre-fight news conferences. Both men came in at 173 pounds, two under the limit. Hopkins, one of the fittest fighters in the game, is as much as a 3-1 underdog with Calzaghe listed at -270 at Caesars Palace.
The public sentiment in wagering thus far favors the fight to go the 12-round distance with the payback at -330 if there is no knockout. Hopkins is a +700 if he wins by KO, while Calzaghe will earn bettors +400 if he does the same. If the fight ends in a draw, the payback would be a hefty +1500.