Interview with Joe Smith Jr. “I never thought an opportunity to fight Bernard Hopkins would ever come up”
By: Matthew N. Becher
Earlier this year, Joe Smith Jr. shocked the boxing world when he went on the road to Chicago, Illinois and knocked out Andrzej Fonfara in one round. Smith was a relatively unknown who rarely fought outside of the New York area and in an instant he had placed his name onto the Light Heavyweight division map. On December 17th, Live on HBO, from the Famous Forum in Inglewood, California, Smith will take on a living legend, and become the final opponent for the one and only Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins. Smith was nice enough to take some time away from training camp to speak with Boxing Insider.
Boxing Insider: You were working as a Union construction worker and moonlighting as a boxer. How did that work as far as schedule wise?
Joe Smith Jr.: I’d get up, go to work in the morning, usually worked till about 3 or 3:30. And depending on how dirty I was that day, I’d either go home and take a shower or I’d just go straight to the gym. Depending on the day, if we go sparring, we have to travel to the city. Other days we go for 2 hours.
Boxing Insider: And are you a “Full Time” boxer now?
Joe Smith Jr.: Ya, once I got called up to fight Bernard Hopkins, my trainer told me that we got the fight. I was actually at work and had to tell my boss that I needed some time off.
Boxing Insider: So then this just happened, even after the Fonfara fight?
Joe Smith Jr.: Yes, I went right back to work after that. I may have to go back to work for a little bit after this fight. I haven’t made that big payday yet.
Boxing Insider: Up until the Fonfara fight, you were mostly a New York fighter. What did traveling to Chicago to face a big name fighter teach you that may help ahead of your California fight with Hopkins?
Joe Smith Jr.: I love to travel, I like going place to place to fight. Of course I love to fight in my hometown of New York. But traveling and getting the different experiences, I enjoy that.
Boxing Insider: In December, you will be traveling to fight Hopkins, who is a living legend. What does it mean to you, to be fighting someone of his stature?
Joe Smith Jr.: It’s great. I never thought an opportunity to fight Bernard Hopkins would ever come up. Once I got that news, I was very happy.
Boxing Insider: What are your thoughts on fighting a man, whose first fight was before you were even born?
Joe Smith Jr.: I can’t believe this guy is still around. It’s great. I give him a lot of respect for that. But he’s jumping in there with me now, he’s trying to stop me from moving forward and doing big things in my career. So I gotta stop him and get him out of there.
Boxing Insider: What should fans expect, especially a lot of new ones that will be introduced to Joe Smith Jr.?
Joe Smith Jr.: They are gonna see a different fighter. They are gonna see a powerful and more all-around fighter. I’m going to show off my boxing skill, with my speed and my power. It’s gonna be a great show.