TEARS & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS; EXCLUSIVE THE HARDEST GAME Ricky & Joe: The difference between losing & winning Calzaghe: Hopkins said he'd give me a free facelift.. I'd return the compliment but he's so ugly there's nothing a plastic surgeon could do..his next stop's a rocking chair!
KING of Bash Street Joe Calzaghe has cranked up the pressure on Bernard Hopkins to agree a new super-fight where the loser will need either a facelift - or a stairlift.
After Ricky Hatton was mugged by Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas at the weekend, Calzaghe is now British boxing's invincible standard-bearer after he was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Undisputed world super middleweight champion Calzaghe restored credibility to the Beeb's blue riband gong on Sunday night by pipping tax exile Lewis Hamilton to a prize controversially won by the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips 12 months ago.
At 35, the Oscar among sporting awards has finally given Calzaghe due recognition for what he is - the longest-running world champion on the planet and the closest thing to indestructible in boxing.
Now the noble art's prince of Wales wants a trans-Atlantic grudge match for the richest payday of his career with self-styled 'Executioner' Hopkins, 43 next month.
Calzaghe's promoter Frank Warren has opened talks with Hopkins about a pounds 15million showdown at light-heavyweight in the United States next April with a 50-50 split purse.
The negotiations with Hopkins' front man, Oscar De La Hoya, have been "fruitful" and Calzaghe is optimistic of making his debut in the States after coming face-to-face with his garrulous rival before the Hatton fight.
And our own Smokin' Joe climbed straight into Hopkins, playing the age card with a promising opening shot in the war of words.
Calzaghe said: "Hopkins has been calling me out and offering to give me a free facelift - I would return the compliment, but he's so ugly already there's nothing a plastic surgeon can do for him.
"He's just an old man whose next stop is a rocking chair or a stairlift. He chickened out of fighting me six years ago and he's been running ever since.
"Recently I watched a tape of his fight with Ronald 'Winky' Wright, and it was so boring I fell asleep after four rounds. Next day I tried to watch it again and I nodded off around the seventh - Hopkins is the best sleeping tablet ever invented.
"He's accused me of being scared to fight outside my own back yard, but I'll take him on in his mum's living room if he wants, although she would have to draw the curtains.
"Hopkins lost his unbeaten record years ago, and all he's got left is his bravado. But in boxing, a big mouth is no substitute for a big heart."
Calzaghe's blast was the confident bluster of a champion who feared he was destined to remain an afterthought in the nation's conscience when he finished fourth in last year's BBC poll behind a show jumper and a gymnast.
Unbeaten in his 44 fights, including 21 world title defences, the Newbridge southpaw has cleaned up in the super middleweight division since he claimed the vacant WBO belt against Chris Eubank more than 10 years ago.
Calzaghe's destruction of Mikkel Kessler last month, in the dragon's den also known as the Millennium Stadium, confirmed him as Britain's most durable fighter.
On Sunday night it was a double celebration for the Calzaghe family when his father and trainer Enzo - whose stable includes the world cruiserweight champ Enzo Maccarinelli - was named BBC's Coach of the Year.
Calzaghe added: "Now I want the big-money fights against the best fighters out there - as I tend to reserve my best performances for the most dangerous opponents.
"Hopkins may be past his sell-by date, but right now he's the biggest name out there for me."
STRIKE EARLY BLOW: Hopkins and Calzaghe exchange words