|HOPKINS Will use his head|
LAS VEGAS - Bernard Hopkins is still fighting at 43 because he uses his head in every conceivable way.
Hopkins has spent several months scheming with three of boxing's top trainers for his light heavyweight fight with Joe Calzaghe tonight. He has thoroughly analyzed Calzaghe's unorthodox lefthanded stance and the unbeaten Welsh champion's endless flurries of punches, which have worn down every opponent he's faced.
Yet, when it's just Hopkins, Calzaghe, and referee Joe Cortez in the ring, Hopkins acknowledges he'll do anything Cortez will allow with his fists, elbows, shoulders, and, of course, head.
Hopkins lacks knockout power these days, but the supremely resourceful veteran is a master of head-butts, sneaky punches, and smothering techniques designed to frustrate his foes. Though age and odds are stacked against him, Hopkins (48-4-1, 32 KOs) has vowed to take Calzaghe (44-0, 32 KOs) off his game with counterpunching and impenetrable defense.
"You don't stick your chin out and see who can take the most punches," Hopkins said. "That's not boxing. The thing is to trick a guy to follow you into that dark corner to get ambushed. I'm going to school you all come Saturday with a lot of old-school boxing."
Hopkins has questioned Calzaghe's skills, belittled his list of European opponents, and criticized his long-delayed debut in Las Vegas. Calzaghe and his father/trainer, Enzo, have replied with dry assessments of Hopkins's defensive style and fading skills.
"It's all an act, all show," Calzaghe said. "I know what Bernard will do in terms of being a dirty fighter at times, and I've been in this sport long enough that there's nothing you can say to me I haven't heard . . . Being a champion, this is what it's really all about."