Calzaghe, Hopkins set to meet in April

Kevin Iole

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – Promoter Frank Warren said Friday he has all but finalized a deal for Joe Calzaghe to fight Bernard Hopkins in a battle of Ring champions on April 19 in Las Vegas.

Warren said he is finalizing arrangements at the unnamed venue, and said the official announcement would be on Tuesday.

The much-anticipated bout will pit the unbeaten Calzaghe, who has held a super middleweight title belt for more than 10 years and currently holds the WBA, WBO, WBC and Ring belts, against Hopkins, the long-time middleweight champion who is now Ring's light heavyweight champion.

The bout, which Warren said will be on HBO, will be Calzaghe's first in the U.S. and only his third outside the U.K.

"This is a fight that Joe has wanted for a very long time," Warren said. "He's wanted to fight a big name in the States for a long time now, but he just missed out. Things always seemed to fall apart late in the game. But Joe is very excited because this is the fight he's really been after."

Calzaghe is 44-0 with 32 knockouts. He won the WBO super middleweight title on Oct. 11, 1997, by defeating Chris Eubank and has held it ever since. He has made 21 consecutive defenses.

That is one more than the 20 defenses Hopkins made of the middleweight belt he held after defeating Segundo Mercado on April 29, 1995. Hopkins lost the belt when he dropped a controversial split decision to Jermain Taylor on July 16, 2005, in Las Vegas. After losing to Taylor in a rematch, Hopkins moved up to light heavyweight in what he said would be his final fight and scored a dominating victory over the heavily favored Antonio Tarver.

Hopkins then decided to keep fighting and scored a unanimous decision victory over Winky Wright on July 21 at Mandalay Bay.

Warren guaranteed that Calzaghe would have a large British contingent following him to the U.S. and said his office has already purchased 6,000 tickets.