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Promoter quells talk of past Calzaghe split

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LAS VEGAS – After a minute or two of verbal sparring during Wednesday's photo opportunity face-off at Planet Hollywood, Joe Calzaghe moved aside to let the real mouthpiece of his camp take a few shots at Bernard Hopkins.

The Welsh super-middleweight king's father and trainer Enzo stepped forward into 'The Executioner's' firing range, glaring up at the bigger man and spouting vitriol with a barely-understandable accent forged from a lifetime divided between the U.K. and Italy and countless pit stops in between.

Promoter Frank Warren looked on with amusement as Enzo, who had given the 43-year-old Hopkins a walking stick midway through the final prefight news conference, got involved in some chit-chat with Hopkins.

"That's Enzo," Warren said with a wry smile. "Joe is his family so it means even more to him."

But while Warren and the Calzaghes presented a united front, the relationship was far frostier following a disappointing series of lackluster fights at the start of this decade.

The version of events that is held strongly by the British media was that Warren demanded Joe Calzaghe dump his father as trainer and hire another cornerman. It is believed that a split took place, before the fighter quickly reversed his decision.

"It was all misquoted," Warren said. "Joe had some injuries and personal problems and he was taking some of that into the gym. Thankfully it was all sorted out and we have moved on to bigger things."

Likewise, Calzaghe senior was in no mood to dwell on the point where his son's career could have seen them end their professional connection.

"I spoke to Frank about it, and he never ever said anything about my training," Enzo Calzaghe said. "It was the press misquoting Frank. It had to be, otherwise I wouldn't be here. If Frank didn't believe in me, I wouldn't be here."

Yet for all the attempts to dismiss the situation as something minor, there is plenty to suggest that was not the case, and that the best father and son combination in the sport may have gone down separate paths.

"It was definitely real," said Kevin Garside, a veteran boxing writer for the London Daily Telegraph. "(Warren) meant it. Joe and Enzo accepted it.

"They parted but they never went to a fight apart. It was done but it was upsetting Joe that much that he couldn't go through with it when it came to fight time. So Enzo never actually left his corner."

Whether the decision was spawned by gut instinct or sentimentality, now, with Joe Calzaghe's record standing at 44-0 before he steps into the Thomas and Mack Center ring with Hopkins on Saturday for his first bout at light-heavyweight, it appears that keeping it in the family was the correct choice.

The natural bond the men share has allowed them to rise through the ranks together, with Joe Calzaghe moving into the upper echelon of any pound-for-pound discussion and Enzo Calzaghe being named Yahoo! Sports Trainer of the Year in 2007.

Whereas Joe is not naturally flamboyant, his old man is happy to step into the spotlight and match Hopkins word for indecipherable word in the prefight hoopla.

And just as Warren was sceptical in the early years he can now have few complaints at the path which has led the Calzaghes to Saturday's potentially career-defining moment.

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