Bernard Hopkins came out of retirement to put an end to Winky Wright's long unbeaten streak. Now he has his sights set on a fighter who has never lost.
Buoyed by his win over Wright, Hopkins seems ready at the age of 42 for a second career in a sport he once dominated. And he's got the perfect opponent in mind for his next fight
I want Joe Calzaghe next," Hopkins said of the Welsh 168-pound champion. "Tell him to come over here, and I'm going to beat him, too."
Calzaghe isn't likely to be packing his bags soon. He has never fought outside of Europe and Hopkins would likely have to make a trip overseas to get the fight if he really wants it.
Besides, Calzaghe's schedule is full. He fights a super middleweight unification bout on Nov. 3 against Denmark's Mikkel Kessler, who is also undefeated.
Hopkins was triumphant after picking at a gash that opened over Wright's left eye with a head-butt in the third round, despite fighting only in spurts at times. Wright scrambled and counterpunched, but the extra weight he was carrying seemed to make him weary as the fight went into the later rounds.
Wright grew frustrated and tired in the late rounds, and Hopkins stuck with a steady strategy in a light heavyweight fight featuring more action than most expected from two guarded counterpunchers. Wright was active and resilient, but Hopkins usually was a half-step ahead.
Judges Glenn Trowbridge and Dave Moretti scored it 117-111 for Hopkins, and Glenn Hamada scored it 116-112. The Associated Press also gave it to Hopkins, 115-113.
Wright thought the fight was his, but didn't blame Hopkins for the head-butt.
"I thought I won the fight, but it was a close fight," said Wright, who doesn't plan to fight again at 170 pounds. "I don't think the head-butt was intentional. It was a head-butt. That's that."
Hopkins praised his opponent, calling it "a very close fight."
"Winky is tough, and he kept coming," Hopkins said. "He knows that I respect him a lot. I had no ill intent. It was all good for both gentlemen, and boxing is back."
Hopkins retired last year after a career highlighted by 21 straight middleweight title defenses and last year's shocking win over Antonio Tarver. Months later, he abandoned retirement for a shot at the 35-year-old Wright, who hadn't lost in 13 fights since December 1999.
By calling out Calzaghe, Hopkins has set the bar higher as his career nears its physical limits.
Calzaghe has 20 successful title defenses behind him -- putting him five short of Joe Louis' record. At 43-0, Calzaghe is also nearing Marciano's 49-0.
But Hopkins said he was in great shape and didn't want to quit now.
"Now people look at me and say, 'Look at your shoulders. Look at your midsection. It's like you're a wide receiver for an NFL team," he said. "Why cheat myself and not be able to exploit the situation by continuing?"
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