Bernard Hopkins vs Joe Smith Jr.: One career ends and another continues


Bernard Hopkins vs Joe Smith Jr.: One career ends and another continues

By Xavier Porter,

December 20, 2016

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Saturday night, December 17, at the Forum in in Inglewood, California’s fight fans from around the world witnessed the end of an era as the great Bernard Hopkins was defeated in his final fight by an opponent that many believed he could beat and walk away with leaving his legacy intact. Long Island’s Joe Smith Jr., labeled the “common man” leading up to the fight, showed how uncommon he is as he stalked Hopkins for eight straight rounds before landing a series of powerful punches that put the 51 year old outside the ring, flat on his back, staring up into the sky.

Smith Jr. was relentless with his attack throughout the fight as he often pinned Hopkins against the ropes and hard punches to both the head and body of the former champion. Hopkins began the fight maneuvering and using his legs. By the end of the second round it was apparent that he would remain in front of Smith and try to give the young lion a boxing lesson. Hopkins landed clean right hands, clinched when he needed to, and also used a good one-two combination to keep Smith bay.

As the fight progressed Smith began to overpower Hopkins, eventually landing a combination of punches that would leave fight fans in disbelief. Hopkins was afforded the twenty seconds to re-enter the ring but it appeared that he was a bit dazed and shaken up after the floor. Not only were the previous amounts of punches taking its toll on him but the last series of punches, along with landing on the hard concrete, it was apparent that the legend had enough. Hopkins landed square on his back, while hitting the back of the head. To his credit he rose from the pavement and seemed to make an attempt to try to stand to his feet and continue. The bout was officially declared a TKO victory Smith Jr. Hopkins claimed after the bout that he was pushed out of the ring. One can see his feelings behind this as he did not anticipate the force and accuracy of Smith Jr. to land that final series of punches, causing him to be sent to the canvas.

Smith Jr. improved his record to 23-1 (19 KOs). He retained his WBC International Light Heavyweight title in a thrilling fashion and yet again made a statement by proving he is not to be taken lightly as an opponent. 

“It feels great, it’s the best feeling in the world to accomplish something I set out for and wanted to do, Smith, Jr. stated.”

“I had seen every time I threw the right hand, he was throwing the left so I set up the punch. I had seen him fall, and I kept hitting him until I saw him go down and out, and that left that I landed was a hard left hook. I hit him with four or five clean shots and they were good shots on the button. I came here to do my job, and while I may have ruined his farewell party, this is my coming out party too. I had to finish him, it was either my career was going to end or his was going to end, but I needed mine to continue. I’m going to get back in the gym and train hard for my next opponent. I’m up for anything. I have lots of respect for Bernard. He is a true champion. Lots of people love Bernard and still will because he’s a true champion.”

Hopkins finishes his “Hall of Fame” career with a record of 55-8-2 (32 KOs). He expressed his feelings on the stoppage of the bout.

“I might have gotten glazed with a left hook.  I knew of the twenty seconds, but couldn’t stand up on my feet.  This is my last fight, I promised it would be; you come to that point in life where it is final and I’m happy with my retirement. I know the fans will know I went out as a solider, fighting the toughest, baddest opponents. I’m not saying I agree, I’m not in denial-Joe was a tough, heavy hitting fighter.”

Joe DeGuardia, Promoter of Star Boxing, also shared his thoughts regarding the fantastic victory for Smith Jr.

“I am so happy for Joe Smith Jr.  This was an emphatic victory and he has a tremendous future ahead of him.  Joe is turning out to be the American dream, a humble, hardworking kid who has now made a name for himself in the Light Heavyweight division with consecutive sensational knockout wins.  This was a great victory for all of us.  I think with these two back to back upset KO wins, Joe Smith Jr. should be “fighter of the year”.  Finally I congratulate and want to express my respect to Bernard Hopkins for a truly amazing illustrious career”.

What’s next for Smith Jr.? A possible and make-able fight with his Irish-counterpart Seanie Monaghan is imminent and warranted by both camps. Monaghan, who hails from Long Beach, Long Island is 28-0, with 17 KOs. He is the WBC Continental Americas Light Heavyweight Champion and is coming off a victory, having fought last on December 10. Smith Jr. hails from Mastic, Long Island. This is a match made in heaven. Both men have history with one another, have sparred numerous amounts of times and also fighting in the amateur ranks.

The newly designed Nassau Coliseum could break a record in ticket sales if this fight is made.

“I would love to fight Joe,” Monaghan said, “my dream is to fight him on the weekend of St. Patty’s day.”

“Heard Nassau Coliseum is on hold for April 29th,” Smith Jr. said, “who better than me a home grown boy to open the building in a huge fight.”

Boxing fans will be anxiously waiting to hear an announcement on this fight possibly taking place.