I think that's good promotion, but I don't think that's true," says Hopkins, who has declared that he wants the winner of the Nov. 8 fight. "It's one of the biggest fights around, but it's not one of the greatest of this millennium.
Although Jones retained the light heavyweight title with a majority decision against Antonio Tarver in November, 2003, many thought he lost that fight. Indeed, Jones did lose the following three fights, getting knocked out by Tarver in the second round and again by Glen Johnson in the ninth round, before losing the rubber match to Tarver in October 2005 by unanimous decision.
It has taken three years and a three-fight winning streak for Jones to restore his swagger and box-office stature.
His unanimous decision victories against Prince Badi Ajamu and Anthony Hanshaw were impressive, but it was his victory against a revered champion in Trinidad that put Jones back in good standing and in position to set up the long-awaited marquee matchup with Calzaghe.
"It seems like I've had about five careers, but you see, that's been my whole life," Jones says. "My life is about going in there, take that knockdown and come back. My life is about having faith in Jesus Christ. If you have faith, you're going to come back from anything that you go through. Whatever they put in front of me, they can knock me down five times but they can't stop me. When I get back up, I'm stronger than I was before. That's what you're seeing right now. I'm having the time of my life."
Likewise, Calzaghe is preparing for the biggest fight of his life. He's had an eye on this fight with Jones for years, and a victory would be satisfying enough for him to call it a career.
"I'm looking forward to this fight because it's probably going to be my last fight," Calzaghe says. I want to go down in history as an undefeated champion. And what a great way to finish, fighting a four-weight world champion in a great venue at the Garden.
"Roy Jones is going to come to win. He's got a tremendous chance, so I have to make sure I'm in great form. But there's no way I'm going to lose Nov. 8 and I'm sure it's going to be one of the (best) fights of the year."
Calzaghe is closing out his career to much fanfare. He won a much-ballyhooed super middleweight title unification fight against Denmark's previously unbeaten Mikkel Kessler last November and lifted his achievements to another level when he beat Hopkins.
Initially, Calzaghe didn't feel he got enough credit for defeating Hopkins. A popular opinion was that he beat an old man who had lost a step. But, Hopkins, 43, showed he has plenty left in his tank with his recent dismantling of previously unbeaten middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, and Calzaghe feels vindicated.
"I feel happy after watching the fight on the weekend," Calzaghe says. "That puts into perspective my win against Hopkins. For everybody who said I beat an old man, now you can see from the way he beat Pavlik that I beat a great fighter. It also should shut up everybody who's been screaming about Pavlik this and Pavlik that. I said all along that he was overhyped and overrated."
There once was a perception, at least on this side of the Atlantic, that Calzaghe was also overrated. While Jones has been on the global radar screen since he was named the outstanding boxer in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Calzaghe didn't get worldwide acclaim until March, 2006 when he shut out and totally frustrated previously unbeaten Jeff Lacy in the first title unification bout of his career. "I basically picked my last two opponents and they were the most difficult opponents I could pick," Calzaghe says. "Mikkel Kessler, everybody said I couldn't beat this guy, and I went to America to beat Hopkins. As far as I'm concerned, I've fought the best fighters that were available to fight."
Calzaghe expects a much more engaging and fan-friendly fight against Jones than he endured against Hopkins, who knocked him down in the first round but conserved energy in the latter rounds by holding.
"You've got somebody who's not going to come and just hold," Calzaghe says. "Roy mixes up his fighting and boxing. I believe I have a superior work rate and the energy to break him down in the second half of the fight. He's still dangerous. He throws fast punches and fast combinations, and so do I, so I think it will be a good fight to watch."
Jones, who owns a victory over Hopkins in 1993 when both were in their 20s, should pose a completely different fight against Calzaghe than Hopkins did earlier this year. But the objective will be the same: Neutralize Calzaghe's high punch output.
"Bernard does a lot of things different than I do," says Jones. "Bernard does a lot more clenching than I'm known to do and his style is different than my style. I will be neutralizing (Calzaghe's fast offense), but not the same way."
Jones figures he has the hand speed and footwork to counter anything Calzaghe brings with him. He gives the Welshman credit for what he's been able to accomplish but doesn't give him much chance of winning.
"He punches more than anybody I've seen as far as my weight class goes," Jones says. "I can't tell you that he's nothing special because that's not true. He is something special. But there's nothing special that's going to happen on his part that night."
Even when the American boxing public didn't know much about Calzaghe, Jones says he was well aware of him.
"When I was on top, I saw everything," Jones says. "If you were within four weight classes of me, I had my eyes on you, because either you were looking at me or I was coming to get you.
"Calzaghe's whole family and country has wanted to see him fight me for about 10 years now. If he beats me, he's going to be so happy, he won't have a choice but to retire. But 'if' means a lot of fricking thinking is going on."
As their own promoters, Calzaghe and Jones were able to reach agreement on a fight that many feel should have happened long ago. The knock on both champions is that they didn't take on all comers when they were in their prime. But they each dispute that assertion.
"There was talk about me fighting Roy Jones years ago, but it was always the fact that Roy Jones didn't want to come over here and maybe he had other fighters to fight when he was on top of his game," Calzaghe says. "But the fight is happening now. It wasn't meant to be then. It was meant to happen now, the same way that the Hopkins fight happened in April rather than six or seven years ago."
Jones is adamant that he maximized his time as the pound-for-pound champion and ducked no one, even to his detriment.
"Look at where I went," Jones says. "I went everywhere, heavyweight, light heavyweight, super middleweight. I didn't care where it was. They called my name and I went. What other guy did that successfully? That's the same thing that might have come back to haunt me. But I think I took perfect advantage of my opportunity."
As their lone high-profile common opponent, Hopkins says talk of Jones vs. Calzaghe being a fight for the best fighter of this generation is just that. Talk.
"I think that's good promotion, but I don't think that's true," says Hopkins, who has declared that he wants the winner of the Nov. 8 fight. "It's one of the biggest fights around, but it's not one of the greatest of this millennium."
If Calzaghe vs. Jones can unfold as one of the best fights this year, most fans would agree that's plenty good enough.