The CBZ Newswire

Joe Smith Spoils Bernard Hopkins Final Fight, Knocking the Legend Out of the Ring

by on Dec.19, 2016, under Boxing News

Story by Christopher Morgan at ringside

LOS ANGELES, CA, December, 17, 2016 – Bernard Hopkins and Golden Boy promotions decided to develop and promote one final send-off to one of boxing’s most enduring legends. Over the last 28 years, Bernard Hopkins has been involved in and won the majority of his fights against the best fighters between 160 and 170 pounds.

The majority of the time Hopkins was an underdog in the eyes of the media and fans; before he relished in making a fool of everyone who doubted him.

That all changed as Bernard began to approach the ripe old age of 50, when he challenged then Light Heavyweight champion and knockout destroyer Sergey Kovalev at the age of 49. Hopkins was dropped by the first hard punch that Kovalev landed and lost every round of the fight, a first for the legend who was always competitive even in defeat.

After 2 long years out of the ring like many boxers before and surely many to come, Bernard decided that he wanted to give glory one more shot, test himself one more time before giving up for good. The team at Golden Boy and HBO decided on mostly unknown Joe Smith Jr., a construction laborer from Long Island New York with a big punch but only one fight at top level, a shock first round knockout defeat of former champ Andrez Fonfara earlier this year.

Joe Smith Jr. having been born a year after Bernard turned professional and possessing a heavy hitting record of 22-1, 18 Kos, was considered by just about all media and fans as a crude unproven no-hoper, a seemingly dangerous guy that would ultimately fall prey to the master Hopkins bag of tricks.

What unfolded in the ring showed that father time definitely catches up to all of us, it is confirmed folks! Even the great Bernard Hopkins, the oldest fighter to ever win a championship who seemed to always be able to turn back the clock just couldn’t muster a consistent attack.

Bernard entered the ring bearing a 55-7-2, 32 kos record.

Bernard spent most of the early rounds on his bicycle circling around the ring from the ever pressing Joe Smith. In the early going Bernard tasted a pair of hard left hand digs to his ribcage prompting him to hold on and tie Joe up whenever he started to close the distance.

It seemed that Hopkins was conserving his energy in the early rounds and hoping that Joe Smith would tire himself out with his high paced attack. Hopkins landed not one but 2 hard headbutts in the second round, the second of which opened a small cut above Joe’s right eye.

The first 4 rounds of the fight played out with a stiff looking Hopkins attempting to muster his master counter-punching skills of old but unable to pull the trigger. Joe Smith concentrated mainly on the body of the old man and rocked Hopkins a few times with clean headshots while walking through the occasional pot shot Hopkins landed off of the ropes.

Bernard Hopkins emerged for the 5th round slightly more warmed up, looking a little more spry and confident. There was a bounce in his step that was missing previously. In his best round of the night Hopkins landed a pair of hard, whipping right hands in succession right on the button of an incoming Smith, visibly wobbling the kid ever so slightly.

In the 6th and 7th rounds Smith accelerated his pace of attack and urgency prompting Hopkins bicycle riding movement to increase to match. When Smith did close the distance Hopkins was unable to use his previous mastery of rolling with punches to take the steam off, it was obviously due to age as well as having been out of the ring for 2 years. Hopkins was forced to slug with his young opponent and got the worst of the exchanges by far.

The end came suddenly in the 8th and final round as Smith detonated a massive right hand bomb high on Hopkins head causing Hopkins to dip into the ropes where a follow up left-right and then final left hook launched Hopkins headfirst out of the ring and down onto the arena floor.

There was pandemonium at ringside with everyone jumping out of their seats wondering if the old man was ok and also wondering if the fight was truly over or if Hopkins was going to be allowed to continue.
Bernard could be observed from ringside hobbling on one leg and being assisted by medical staff to walk.
In my opinion the crowd was very rude to Joe Smith booing and hurling insults at the kid who had just experienced the greatest victory of his career and had delivered just about as spectacular a knockout as anyone is likely to see for a long time.

At the conclusion of the fight, Hopkins true to form refused to give the kid any credit claiming that he was on his way to victory and also claiming more dubiously that Smith had pushed him out of the ring, in essence that Smith cheated to gain victory in a fight he was losing.

When asked if he would fight again Hopkins insisted that this was his final fight, however I have my suspicions that this extremely competitive and proud man will be content to have his final moment in the ring play out this way, suffering the only stoppage defeat of his entire career. I expect him to come back for a LAST last fight against a much lighter hitting and possibly older opponent.

As for Joe Smith, he has many attractive options at Light Heavy. He could have a domestic dust up with fellow Irish American Seanie Monaghan. A possible opponent for former champ Sergey Kovalev should an immediate rematch with Andre Ward fail to surface. Or in his biggest opportunity for a big purse he could ry his luck in Montreal against the lineal light heavyweight champ, the hard hitting Adonis Stevenson.


Joseph Diaz vs. Horacio Garcia

The co-main event featured an entertaining 10 round scrap between local favorite undefeated featherweight Joseph “jo-jo” Diaz (22-0, 13 Kos) against hard slugging contender Horacio Garcia (30-1-1, 22 Kos) of Guadalajara Mexico. Joseph Diaz has real skill and while his opponent gave him all he could handle in spots Joseph was just too technically sound to ever not be in command of the fight. Joseph is definitely a special fighter and is well on his way to earning a belt, but I don’t feel he will quite reach the level hoped by his many rabid supporters and hype would indicate.


Oleksandr Usyk vs. Thabiso Mchunu

In the first televised bout of the evening, the giant Ukrainian cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk of Kiev Ukraine (10-0, 9 kos) scored a decisive but unspectacular stoppage of Cato Ridge, South Africas Thabiso Mchunu (17-2, 11 Kos)
Olekansdr Usyk started very slowly content to keep his guard high and not throw many punches for the first 3 rounds or so. I blame iPhones and our instant gratification culture for the way fans reacted to this bout. The fans literally started booing violently after the first 30 seconds of the fight did not produce any action. I understand booing after several rounds of inaction but 30 seconds is ridiculous.

Usyk began to find his range in the 6th round when a right hand bomb staggered Mchunu and the follow up barrage forced Mchunu to take a knee. The end came in round 9 after a pair of knockdowns left Mchunu a crumpled, bloody and defeated mess on the canvas.

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