UPDATE 2: Joe Smith sounds ready to rock and roll into the New Year on a momentum surge.
“I'm looking forward to this fight, this one is going to skyrocket my career after this fight,” Smith told NYF. “And whether I destroy Hopkins by KO or dominate by unanimous decision everyone will know I belong at the top. I know he's a legend that works very hard and all he wants to do is knock me out and retire on top but I have a plan and things that I want in life. I can't let him do that…nothing or anyone will get in my way! It's my time!”
LOS ANGELES (October 17, 2016) – A boxing legend will look to add an exclamation point to end his professional career with the same style, speed and slickness that has defined him in the ring for nearly three decades, as 51-year-old, two-division former world champion and Future Hall of Hamer Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs) prepares to square off against hard-hitting Light Heavyweight contender Joe Smith, Jr. (21-1, 18 KOs) in a 12-round fight from Los Angeles' iconic Fabulous Forum. The bout will take place Saturday, December 17 and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing®.
Tickets for the fight – named, “The Final One” — will go on sale Monday, October 24th at 10:00 a.m. PT.
Hopkins' resume reads like a Hall-of-Fame induction ballot. Between holding the record for the record number of title defenses as middleweight champion of the world (20) and moving up to light heavyweight to capture multiple belts in that division, Hopkins fought and defeated a who's who of boxing world champions throughout his remarkable 28-year career.
Roy Jones, Jr., John David “Action” Jackson, Glen “Road Warrior” Johnson, Felix “Tito” Trinidad, Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver, Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik, Jean Pascal, Chad “Bad” Dawson, and Golden Boy Promotions business partner Oscar De La Hoya all tasted defeat at the hands of the executioner.
“While ‘The Alien' may be retired, the ‘Executioner' has one fight left, and Joe Smith Jr., is going to find out the hard way how well prepared I am for my final fight,” Bernard Hopkins said. “A lot of people will focus on my age, the history of my run in the sport, the titles, etc…but I'm focused on one thing – knocking Joe Smith out.”
Joe Smith Jr., who was born in 1989, nearly three years after Hopkins had his first fight, is coming off the victory of his career, delivering a brutal first-round knockout of established contender Andrzej Fonfara in June and earning the WBC International Light Heavyweight Championship. The belt will not be at stake in this fight.
“I'm very excited about fighting on HBO,” said Joe Smith Jr. “I know now all my hard work and dedication has paid off. I am looking forward to retiring a boxing legend”
“To accomplish what Bernard has over the course of nearly 30 years inside the ring and still competing at the highest level of the sport at the age of 51; what else can you call him but a bona fide legend,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “All of us at Golden Boy Promotions are so proud to work with Bernard each and every day and can't wait to give him the send-off he deserves with an incredibly, dynamic promotion over the next two months.”
“I'm thrilled that we have put together this exciting fight,” said Joe DeGuardia, President and CEO of Star Boxing. “What a great opportunity for Joe Smith Jr. to follow-up on his sensational victory on national TV with a fight against a legend like Bernard Hopkins on HBO. ”
“For any generation and in any sport, Bernard Hopkins is an athletic marvel who has defied time and the odds as deftly as he has his critics, and he returns to HBO for the 23rd time when he faces Joe Smith in the iconic setting of the Forum in Inglewood, CA,” said Peter Nelson, executive Vice President, HBO Sports. “Bernard's mark on the sport is already an indelible one, and one day he'll be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Dec. 17 will be a memorable night of boxing for everybody associated with Team Hopkins, and we are excited to telecast his farewell fight.”
“We are proud to welcome our friends at Golden Boy Promotions and HBO back to the ‘Fabulous' Forum when we host this highly-anticipated Dec. 17th battle between light heavyweights Bernard Hopkins and Joe Smith Jr.,” said Nick Spampanato, Senior Vice President West Coast and General Manager of The Forum and MSG.
Golden Boy Promotions is currently working on a new co-main event, as an injury to Orlando “Siri” Salido's back has forced him off the card. Golden Boy will announced the co-main and full card in the coming weeks.
Bernard Hopkins, at an age when he's earned the right to retire and await the Hall of Fame entry, wants to do it one more time. The whole nine, the training camp, the pressers, the fight night, soak in the adoration and prove yet again that he's up there at a lofty plateau, as a physical freak of nature the world of sport has never seen the likes of.
Hopkins (55-7-2), a former champion at 160, who defended his title a middleweight record 20 times, will fight his farewell fight against a man young enough to be his son, it looks like.
The most successful alumnus of Graterford Prison, who turns 52 on January 15, will likely fight 27 year old New Yorker Joe Smith (22-1).
They tango on Dec 17, providing last Ts are crossed, with venue TBD, a source told me.
Hopkins confounded doubters who figured he'd be back behind bars but he instead learned the pugilism trade and debuted as a pro in 1988. Smith was born a year later.
The Long Islander promoted by Joe DeGuardia scored the most splashy upset KO of the year when he pole axed Andrzej Fonfara in June. The WBC has him as their No 2 rated 175. He's been busier than Philly's elder statesman of the sweet and savage science Hopkins, who last fought in Nov 2014, dropping a UD to Sergey Kovalev, who made the old master look not exactly old, but for sure past his prime.
Now a partner at Golden Boy Promotions, Hopkins is admitting that he's no longer a full time fighter and instead wants to transition to his next phase. He woukd be the favorite against Smith, a bombs away slugger who the sagacious graybeard expects could be defused and dissected.
One would assume HBO, for whom Hopkins does analyst work, would televise. And this being boxing, maybe should one assume that if Hopkins wins and looks decent, he will have a hard time sticking to the plan, this one and done scrap being the farewell fight? That is a rhetorical question, of course.
Who do you think would win, Hopkins or Smith, and how?
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