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Boxing: JOE WILL GO OUT FIGHTING .. AND NO MISTAKE; CHAMP'S BIG FINISH IN NY 'I underestimated Hopkins but I'm more up for Jones'.

Byline: BY OLIVER HOLT Chief Sports Writer

JOE CALZAGHE last night vowed to make amends for his poor performance against Bernard Hopkins by ending his career with a bang on Saturday.

Calzaghe admitted that he underestimated the American fighter before he claimed a controversial split decision victory over him in Las Vegas last April. But he claimed that he now realised how close he had come to throwing away his cherished unbeaten record and would put things right by knocking out Roy Jones Jnr at Madison Square Garden.

Calzaghe looked healthy and confident as he sat at a table in a restaurant overlooking Times Square, feasting on chicken and salad.

He said he was revelling in being in New York and not having to struggle to make the weight for super-middleweight now that he had moved up a division to light-heavyweight.

"I'd be eating the same meal this time before a fight if I was still at super-middle," he said.

"Just without the chicken."

Calzaghe was also full of disdain about his experience fighting in Las Vegas and the idea that it must have been a great thrill for him.

"Vegas meant nothing to me," he said.

But he said that if Jones had been encouraged by his lacklustre performance against 43-year-old Hopkins, when Calzaghe was knocked down in the opening round, he would find himself facing a different fighter on Saturday.

"Look," Calzaghe said, "I saw weaknesses in my performance against Hopkins, too. I was s**t. I hold my hands up to that. I'm my own worst critic.

"I was embarrassed to be knocked down by him. Jones probably looked at that fight and took a lot of heart from it. But that's me.

"I'd fought great the previous fight against Mikkel Kessler and I always follow a good performance with a bad one.

"I was only 80 per cent for that fight against Hopkins. I had problems with my hands and it's horrible if you are going into the ring knowing that you're not 100 per cent.

"I am mentally more up for this fight. Roy Jones is potentially more dangerous than Hopkins but it all depends how I am.

"I underestimated Hopkins slightly and I nearly paid for it. I have never been a Hopkins fan and I thought he was just an old guy that I could handle.

"I have also grown into the weight more. The last fight against Hopkins was my first fight at light-heavyweight, don't forget.

"I was too relaxed against Hopkins. Who cares if it was my first fight in America.

Vegas did nothing for me.

"The atmosphere to me was nothing. I had fought in front of 50,000 fans in Cardiff in my previous fight and here I was at the Thomas and Mack in Vegas. Big deal."

This time, Calzaghe promised, he was properly motivated.

He said he felt 'honoured' to be fighting at Madison Square Garden and that he wanted to do himself and the famous venue justice.

"I want it to be spectacular," Calzaghe said.

"I want to dominate and then I'm going to knock him out."


READY FOR THE BIG ONE Calzaghe plans to end his career on a high; CITY LIGHTS He soaks up the atmosphere in Times Square
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 5, 2008
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