By: Sean Crose
“Have a good fitness coach.”
That’s Bernard Hopkin’s advice for any fighter hoping to move up in weight to attain ring glory. His other piece of advice: “Be yourself. Being yourself got you here.” Hopkins knows that which of he speaks. After making himself undisputed and unquestioned king of the middleweight division, the Philadelphia fighter moved up to light heavyweight and won four or five titles in that division, as well (including the lineal). Now retired, the Golden Boy Promotions power player might be someone Canelo Alvarez should pay attention to. For not only is Canelo moving up to light heavyweight this Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Vegas, he’s facing former Hopkins’ foe, WBO champ Sergey Kovalev.
Then again, the likeable Hopkins is very open about the fact that he lost to Kovalev in their 2014 bout. “I would be a bad example,” he says good naturedly. “He has to be aware that he (Kovalev) is the Krusher.” Still, Hopkins is nothing if not a keen study. “You can’t keep your eyes off the guy,” he says of Kovalev. “You can be doing well and get hit with one shot and it changes the game.” Perhaps most importantly, Hopkins believes Canelo should be aware “he’s trying to enter someone’s house,” that house being the light heavyweight division. As for Kovalev? “He’s just waiting with a big shotgun for someone to come in.”
None of this means Hopkins isn’t pulling for his guy to win on Saturday (Canelo is Golden Boy’s star fighter). Hopkins sees Canelo as a protégé who is now set to avenge his loss to the hard hitting Russian. “Revenge is so sweet,” he says, “you know that?” From Hopkin’s perspective, a Canelo victory would be sweet indeed. “I didn’t get you,” Hopkins says hypothetically, “but my protégé got you. My son got you.” No matter how the fight turns out, however, it’s clear Hopkins is in a good place.
“Personally, it’s the fun part that I can sit back and watch,” he says. “I love what I do. I love the sweet science.” There’s a lot to love when interesting matches like this weekend’s come around. “Both guys equally have their own (strong) traits,” says Hopkins of Canelo and Kovalev. “Both of those styles coming together, it’s like pizza and cheese.” It’s clear when talking to Hopkins that he admires the passion both men have for the sport. “Neither of these guys,” he says. “has a surrender bone in their body.”
Although he hasn’t involved himself with either fighter much heading into the weekend (he’s now on the business side of things, after all), Hopkins offers a unique insight into the workings of a major fight. He also offers a humorous take on the fight game. When asked if he has spoken recently to Kovalev, the man long known as B’Hop offers a snappy retort: “All I can say to him is why’d you hit me so hard?”
Where Do Philly Boxers Garcia, Cunningham and Hopkins Go From Here?
By: Ken Hissner
Starting with Danny “Swift” Garcia, 33-1 (19) the former super lightweight and welterweight champion who just lost to his toughest opponent in Keith “One Time” Thurman and his WBC belt. As a super lightweight Garcia he scored wins over Amir Kahn, 31-4 (19), in a shootout who gets to who first and gave overblown featherweight Erik Morales a rematch? How about Kahn? How about Herrera? How about Peterson? His win over Lucas Matthysse was possibly his biggest accomplishment.
Garcia took on Rod Salka a 132 lightweight and made him come in at over 140 in a non-title bout. When asked who made this choice he said “my manager.” Al Haymon? What about “The New” Ray Robinson or “Hammerin” Hank Lundy who have been calling him out since their sparring days with Garcia? Two Philly fighters who could have brought some fans out even in Philly.
As the No. 2 welterweight contender in the WBC Garcia won’t fight No. 1 Kahn so “he gets” No. 6 the over the hill Robert Guerrero in a vacant title fight? He finally steps up and takes on Thurman and we saw how that turned out in not a great fight but an interesting one. Where does Garcia go from here? No rematch I’m sure with Thurman. No. 5 Shawn Porter and No. 7 Andre Berto have “an elimination bout” coming up? Granted Kahn is No. 1 but is supposed to get a shot at WBO champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquaio’s title though Kahn hasn’t fought since May of 2016 getting knocked out by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and isn’t even in the WBO ratings. So where is Garcia going to land in the next WBC ratings? No. 1 is not automatic for former champs. Ask Sergey Kovalev about that.
Lamont Peterson, 35-3-1 (17), is now holding WBA World belt. IBF champion Kell “Special One” Brook, 36-1 (25), is tentatively going to defend against his No. 1 contender in Errol Spence, 21-0 (18), having not fought since September when Gennady “GGG” Golovkin injured his eye socket in an interesting fight.
Then there’s former 2-time IBF champion Steve “USS” Cunningham, 29-8-1 (13), who entered last Saturdays ring in Reading, PA, in a scheduled 8 round bout reduced to a 6 winning every round from overweight former light heavyweight Felipe “El Indio” Romero, 19-12-1 (13), so Cunningham can “get the rust off” after with a promise from his manager Al Haymon getting him a title fight. He isn’t ranked anymore and all four champs are from outside the US. Cunningham had to go to Europe to get those titles so it won’t be like a first time for him.
Starting with WBC champion Tony “The Bomber” Bellew, 29-2-1 (19), of the UK who just stopped former champion David Haye and whose No. 1 challenger is MairisBriedis, 21-0 (18), from Latvia who is scheduled to fight for the interim WBC title April 1st against former champion Marco Huck in Germany whom Cunningham stopped in 2007.
The WBA champion Denis Lebedev, 29-3 (22), only defended his IBF title in Russia against fellow Russian Murat “Iron” Gassiev, 24-0 (17), losing a split decision. There may be a rematch in that one. The IBF doesn’t have any challengers in the number one or two spot but have No. 3 Noel Gevor, 22-0 (10), an Armenian out of Germany who is also the No. 1 contender in the WBO where the champion if OleksandrUsyk, 11-0 (10), of the UKR. He is defending his title in Oxon Hill, MD, April 8th against Michael Hunter, 15-0. So Cunningham may be able to get the winner in the US. Gevor is scheduled to go to Poland to fight the former champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, on May 20th who split it two fights with Cunningham.
So it’s a matter of Cunningham getting ranked again which shouldn’t take much based on his record and being a former champion. Who knows he may not have to leave the US to get that shot. The man is always in tip top shape and though having fought at heavyweight a bit makes 200 easily.
This leaves us with 52 year-old Bernard “the Executioner” Hopkins, 55-8-2 (32), who is from Philly and was living in Hockessin, DE, but also I understand had a place in Philly and may be back there. After witnessing former 3-division champion another “ageless” boxer pack them in at the Chase Center in DE recently could there be a “rubber match” between Jones and Hopkins at the Chase Center? Jones is 48 but you would never know it in his win over Bobby Gunn in his last fight. Neither he nor Hopkins may never get another title fight but then who knows. Both are future IBHOF boxerswho don’t seem to go away.
I’m sure Hopkins would like to retire with a win in his last fight that seems to have been difficult to do since losing his last two fights to Sergey Kovlev and Joe Smith, Jr. Just prior to that he held the IBF and WBA titles defeating Shumenov but lost those titles to Kovalev who got robbed by Andre Ward losing all three titles and may never get a deserved rematch. Though both are no longer ranked don’t be surprised if their names appear in a title fight in the near future.
Philadelphia is again without a champion but has a ton of young prospects with “champion” written all over them such as 19 year-old Jaron “Boots” Ennis, 9-0 (8), who fights March 31st back in Philly. It will be ten fights in twelve months for this talented welterweight whom this writer calls “the best Philly prospect since 1984 Olympic champion Meldrick Taylor”. His brothers “Pooh” and Farah held USBA and NABF titles while their father “Bozy” is the best trainer in Philly and one of the best in the world.
Boxers Fighting Past 49 Years Old in the Modern Era of Boxing!
By: Ken Hissner
We all know about people like Archie “Old Mongoose” Moore, 186-23-10, finishing up in March of 1963, fighting past 45 and who knows how old he and Sonny Liston were when they stopped fighting. The record book claims Moore was only 46 which sounds too young. Today there are some successful boxers in the past that seemed to think when George Foreman, 76-4, re-won the title at 45 they could do it too. They look at what’s around today and still think they are in the prime of their careers. Foreman was 48 retiring after his November 1997 fight.
Today we have 48 year-old Roy Jones, Jr. who just defeating Bobby Gunn in Wilmington, DE, in February. Then there is 51 year-old Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins who split in two bouts with Jones. A rubber match in the making?
Possibly the oldest in modern times was SaoulMamby, PR, at age 60 finishing up in March of 2008.
Donovan “Razor” Ruddock, of Canada thought he still had what it takes at 53 in September of 2015.
Billy “Bronco” Wright,of Las Vegas at age 51 last fought in January of 2016 and might not be retired. Larry“The Easton Assassin” Holmes,was 52 finishing up in July of 2002 with “Butterbean”. Ron Lyle, was 54 finishing up in August 1995.Sal “Rocky” Cenicola, 19-2, was 52 returning to the ring after a 25 year lay-off. Dewey Bozella, on October in 2011 had his debut and only fight after serving 26 years in Sing-Sing Prison was released after being falsely imprisoned. Earnie Shavers, was 50 finishing up in November of 1995.
Others still fighting and over 50 are Andre Sidon, 45-11, of Germany who is 54 last fighting in November of 2016. Zoltan “Csepi” Petranyi, 53-22, of Hungary is 50 and recently fought in January of 2017. Summarizing this the oldest was SaoulMamby fighting at 60. Others over 50 are Levi Forte, 58, ZoranSekularac, 57, Andreas Sidon, 54, Ron Lyle, 54, Bob Adkisson, 54,Hairton Campos, 54,GoranDinic, 54, Donovan “Razor” Ruddock 53, Kenny Lane, 53, Sal Cenicola, 52, Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes, 52, Brian Durham, 52, Ronald Garr, 52, Johnny Reiffenstein, 52, Jose Carlos Amaral, 52,Jean-Pierre Coopman, 52, Billy “Bronco” Wright, 51, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins 51, AlbertinoMotaPinheiro, 51, Anthony Cooks, 51,Raynard Darden, 51, Mark Weinman, 51, Alexander Nuri, 51, David Combs, 51, Adnan Oezcoban, 51,Earnie Shavers, 50, Bob Mirovic, 50,Jerry Evans, 50, Attila Huszka, 50, Terry Scott, 50,Herbert Odom, 50, Ron Wilson, 50, Chuck Shearns, 50, and Zoltan “Csepti” Petranyi is 50.
With the help of Historian Henry Hascup who is head of the NJ BHOF.
Povetkin Hits a New Low in Moscow; In L.A., Hopkins Couldn’t Stay Away
By: Eric Lunger
It was a weekend of regret, as two bouts on different continents made a mockery of professional boxing. Karl Marx once observed that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. In Russia, Alexander Povetkin, by failing PED screening for a second time in less than a year, made a farce of whatever governing body sanctioned his heavyweight bout. And at the Forum in Los Angeles, veteran Bernard Hopkins was literally knocked out of the ring for the second time is his career, in what was supposed to be some sort of triumphant farewell/ retirement fight.
The Povetkin debacle was hard to fathom from the moment stories broke that he had failed another drug test. Seven months ago Povetkin was caught with meldonium in his veins, a now well-known PED employed systematically, it seems, by Russian athletes. There is something particularly vile about drug cheating in boxing: its one thing if the Russian bobsled team gets a faster start, and quite another thing when a heavyweight boxer has an unfair advantage. Boxing is dangerous enough as it is. Bermane Stiverne, Povetkin’s opponent, had worked very hard to position himself back in line for a WBC title shot, having lost a tough twelve rounder to Deontay Wilder in January of 2015. It also takes guts to enter the lion’s den by traveling to Moscow to face Povetkin in front of a home crowd, so imagine Bermane’s frustration and disgust when he awoke, on fight day no less, to the news that the WBC had withdrawn its sanction for the bout, which, by the way, is the only ray of light in this dark hole.
It appears that the WBC did the right thing immediately by withdrawing their sanction for the bout. Povetkin was on a voluntary random testing regime, a result of his previous violation under the WBC, which is trying to implement a rigorous anti-doping regime by partnering with VADA, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. Bizarrely, Povetkin was immediately provided with a replacement opponent, Johann Duhaupas of France, though no one knows why he was in Russia and available. It takes no giant leap of imagination to suppose that World of Boxing, the Russian promotion company that represents Povetkin, was holding Duhaupas in reserve for just such an eventuality. And to end the whole sordid story, Povetkin knocked out Duhaupas in the sixth round, with a vicious and presumably steroid enhanced left hook. Congratulations to a drug cheat.
The Hopkins vs. Smith fight was farce of a different nature, less malevolent but just sad. Sad to see a legend of the ring end his career on such an unnecessarily low note. After being dismantled and slightly embarrassed by Sergey Kovalev in November of 2014, Hopkins just couldn’t stay away. He had something to prove to himself, I suppose, because I can’t imagine anyone in the entire boxing world would have begrudged him his retirement at that point. So Saturday night, after needlessly disrespecting Joe Smith, Jr. at the prefight press conference, we were treated to the ridiculous executioner show, the silly hoods and fake axes, etc. I guess I’m just not a fan of the elaborate ring walk and masks and costumes. And the fight itself was hardly a fight, rather a boxing exhibition – and a bad one at that. Hopkins’s footwork was slow and ponderous, and the head butt in round two looked to me to be intentional, a dirty and unbecoming foul that was depressing to see from such a great champion. I don’t want to bash Hopkins, and I think I can understand how hard it must be for a proud, professional athlete to finally give up a sport that has defined his identity for so long, but when Smith bludgeoned him through the ropes and out of the ring, it felt as though boxing itself had ejected Hopkins from the sport. Only a man as competitive as Bernard Hopkins would argue that Smith pushed him through the ropes. But then, only a man as competitive as Bernard Hopkins would be prize fighting at age 51.
There were several good fights this weekend, and congratulations to Oleksandr Usyk, Joseph Diaz, Jr., and Sullivan Barrera, all of whom put on excellent shows and won technically fine bouts. But shame on Povetkin, and a sad farewell to Hopkins.
Hopkins Sabotages His Own Poignant Moment
By: Sean Crose
Joe Smith looked amazing Saturday night. It’s doubtful he could have bested Bernard Hopkins in the great fighter’s prime, but credit must go where credit is due. As for Hopkins, he might have wanted a more illustrious end to his career, but, as has been stated, he always knew the dangers of the task he had set out for himself. What’s more, Hopkins was well aware of the fact that boxing, the sport he had made such a mark on, had proven to be greatly beneficial to him and to his family throughout this life.
If only Hopkins had taken that tone in his post fight interview Saturday evening with HBOs Max Kellerman.
Instead, Hopkins made himself look ridiculous and spoiled his own poignant moment. Everyone ages, even great fighters, and Hopkins had himself a longer run than any great in history. Getting knocked out of the ring by Smith was clearly a less than stellar end to an otherwise terrific career, true, but so what? Had the man been a bit more sportsmanlike, he still could have walked out in the publics’ good graces. As Roy Jones, another great, essentially stated for HBO (who Jones works for as a broadcaster) afterwards, however, Hopkins is going to be Hopkins.
There was a lot of truth to be found in Jones’ words, actually. For Hopkins has always been a left of center guy. To be sure, the man has been one of my personal favorite fighters for years, but I remember listening to him ramble during a conference call once while noting how nuts it all seemed. Again, the guy had a terrific career and is worthy of a lot of respect. He’s always been on the egomaniacal side, however, and that side reared its ugly head at a moment when the man should have been his most gracious.
As for Smith, well, he’s a lot of fun to watch. Normally I wouldn’t think much of a man in his twenties beating the hell out of a fifty something, but this was a case that proved the old adage there’s an exception to every rule. Just how good is Smith? Well, I don’t think he’s ready for light heavyweight kingpins like Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev, and Adonis Stevenson. I do, however, think he’s better than some are making him out to be.
While it’s hard to take away from the fact that he beat a guy in his fifties on Saturday, it’s also worth noting that Smith recently dusted Andrzej Fonfara in terrific fashion not so long ago. In truth, the construction worker from Long Island is an action fighter and has the potential to build himself a healthy fan base. Add that to the power the man clearly possesses and its clear Smith is someone to look out for.
Still, there’s no denying that Hopkins looked old on Saturday. Really old. Okay, scratch that – the guy looked his age. Sadly, it just wasn’t the kind of age a fighter should generally enter the ring with. This was obviously not the guy who beat Tito Trinidad all those years ago. Indeed, it wasn’t even the guy who lost to Sergey Kovalev by decision a while back. This was a man whose glory days in the ring had come and gone. If only Hopkins had the awareness and/or good taste to acknowledge as much.
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Usyk and Diaz Victorious, Joe Smith Stops Bernard Hopkins and Sends Him Tumbling Outside the Ring
By: William Holmes
The legendary Bernard Hopkins ended his long and illustrious career tonight at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Three bouts were televised by HBO and five of tonight’s six participants were making their HBO debut.
The opening bout of the night was between Oleksandr Usyk (10-0) and Thabiso Mchunu (17-2) for the WBO Cruiserweight Title.
Both boxers came out in a southpaw stance, but Usyk appeared to be the bigger and longer boxer. However, Usyk had trouble with the short height of Mchunu and stuck to mainly throwing his jab in the opening two rounds. Mchunu showed surprisingly good counter punching and was able to land some lead right hooks and stiff jabs and took an early lead.
At the start of the third round Mchunu landed seventeen punches to Usyk’s sixteen, but Usyk picked up his volume of punches and began to look very comfortable in the ring by the fourth round. His volume and accuracy was increasing.
Usyk landed a good right uppercut in the fifth round and was landing more power shots. He scored a knockdown in the sixth round after landing multiple combinations that forced Mchunu to take a knee. Mchunu was able to survive the round but Usyk domination and volume continued into the seventh and eighth rounds.
Usyk opened up the ninth round by landing some good body shots on Mchunu in the opening minute and it opened up some avenues for Usyk to land some power shots upstairs. Usyk landed another blistering combination and it forced Mchunu to take a knee. Usyk comes right at Mchunu when he gets back to his feet and a fierce exchange occurred with both boxers landing power shots, but it was Mchunu who goes down again and the referee stops the fight.
Oleksandr Usyk wins by TKO at 1:53 of the ninth round.
The next bout of the night was between Joseph Diaz (22-0) and Horacio Garcia (30-1-1) in the featherweight division.
Diaz, a southpaw, landed the first jab of the night and kept a safe distance and found his range early on. Garcia landed a good counter right but was met with a two punch combination from Diaz. Diaz landed more punches than Garcia in the opening frame, but Garcia was able to land some hard punches of his own.
Diaz had a strong second and third rounds and nearly doubled the number of power shots landed. He was landing crisp counter shots on a forward pressing Garcia and looked like an experienced veteran in the ring.
Garcia had a decent fourth round and caught Garcia with some right hand power shots when his back was against the ropes, but Diaz was able to slow Garcia down with hard hooks to the body and closed out the round well with quick combinations.
Diaz stepped on the gas pedal in the fifth round and was able to impress the crowd with his blistering hand speed. Diaz’s dominance continued into the sixth round and he was comfortably ahead on the scorecards.
Diaz simple outclassed Garcia by the seventh round and looked like he had no chance at winning the bout. He was able to land a few combinations on Diaz with his back against the ropes, but Diaz was able to fight out of the corner and quickly swing the momentum back to his favor.
Garcia needed a knockout in the final two rounds to win and he tried to press the action, but that knockout never came.
Diaz wins an impressive decision with scores of 100-90 on all three scorecards.
The main event of the evening was between Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2) and Joe Smith Jr. (22-1) in the light heavyweight division.
Smith missed with a wild right hook early in the first round and Hopkins immediately tied up. Hopkins connected with an early lead right but Smith counters with a right hand to the temple of Hopkins that appears to have momentarily stunned him. Smith was landing some hard shots on Hopkins as the round came to an end, and for the first time in his career Hopkins looked old inside the ring.
Smith pressed forward in the second round and Hopkins tied up when they got close, which led to a clash of heads that opened up a cut on the top of Smith’s head. Hopkins was able to land a sharp counter right hand this round, but Smith was the more active fighter.
The third round was a close round, but Smith was missing more of his punches than in the previous two rounds and Hopkins landed a few counter right hands.
Hopkins had a very good fourth round and even landed some combinations on the a seemingly increasingly frustrated Joe Smith Jr.
Hopkins started off the fifth round strong by tagging Smith with straight right hands as he chased Hopkins around the ring. However, Smith hard a good moment in the fifth round when he dug in some heavy hooks into the body of Hopkins and followed it with a right hook to the chin of Hopkins that elicited a roar from the crowd.
Hopkins missed with a wild left in the opening seconds of the sixth round and Smith landed a left to the body and Hopkins responded with a right uppercut to the chin of Smith. Smith pressed the action in the sixth round and was able to land some good shots.
Hopkins landed some clean counter punches in the seventh round but Smith was able to land some good punches to the body.
Smith had Hopkins backing up in the eighth round and landed a combination, including a stunning right hand, that hurt Hopkins and had him tumbling outside of the ring. Hopkins was helped to his feet by some people outside, but failed to get back into the ring after the count of twenty.
Hopkins was complaining that he was pushed outside of the ring to all who would hear him, but the fight was waived off and ruled in favor of Joe Smith Jr.
The crowd was not happy with the result, but Joe Smith Jr. wins by TKO at 0:53 of the eighth round.
HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Smith Jr., Usyk vs. Mchunu, Diaz vs. Garcia
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night a legend in the sport of boxing and one of the greatest, if not greatest, fighter that the city of Philadelphia has ever produced will, allegedly, be fighting his last fight in his illustrious career.
Bernard Hopkins will step into the ring to face Long Island, New York native Joe Smith in a light heavyweight showdown in the main event of HBO World Championship Boxing. This bout will take place at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
HBO and Golden Boy Promotions will be televising three bouts on Saturday night. The opening bout of the night will be a WBO Cruiserweight Title bout between upstart champion Oleksandr Usyk and Thabio Mchunu. The co-main event of the night will be between Joseph Diaz and Horacio Garcia in the featherweight division.
The following is a preview of all three televised bouts.
Oleksandr Usyk (10-0) vs. Thabiso Mchunu (17-2); WBO Cruiserweight Title
Oleksandr Usyk is one of the best prospects to come out of the Ukraine and is a former Olympic Gold Medalist in the 2012 Summer Olympics and was a Gold Medalist in the 2011 World Championships. He won these medals while competing as a heavyweight and was able to capture the WBO Cruiserweight World title before his 11th professional fight.
His opponent, Thabiso Mchunu, does not have the amateur pedigree of Usyk but held several regional titles as a professional.
Usyk holds the edge in height, reach, and power. He is four inches taller than Mchunu, he will have a five and a half inch reach advantage, and has stopped all of his opponents except for one. Mchunu only has 11 stoppage victories and eight of his opponents were able to go the distance.
Both boxers are southpaws but Usyk is a better technical boxer than Mchunu and should be able to handle it well.
Usyk has defeated the likes of Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland, Pedro Rodriguez, and Andrey Knyazev. He has fought three times in 2015 and once in 2016.
Mchunu has beaten the likes of Boniface Kabore, Garrett Wilson, and Eddie Chambers. His losses were to Illunga Makabu and Zack Mwekassa. He fought once in 2015 and once in 2016.
Usyk is a boxer to keep a close eye on as he has a high ceiling and has fights televised on HBO early on in his career. Mchunu should be a good test for him, but it’s a test that Usyk is expected to pass with flying colors.
Joseph Diaz (22-0) vs. Horacio Garcia (30-1-1); Featherweights
Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz is one of Golden Boy Promotions’ best prospects and is expected by many to be a future star in the sport of boxing.
Diaz is two years younger than Garcia and will be giving up one inch in reach. They both stand at 5’6” tall.
Diaz has the better amateur background and competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics for the United States. He has been very active and fought five times in 2015 and three times in 2016. Garcia has not been as active and fought once in 2016 and three times in 2015.
Diaz, a southpaw, has thirteen stoppage victories and three of his past four fights ended in a stoppage victory. Garcia has twenty two stoppage victories and has gone 4-1-1 in his last six fights.
Diaz has slowly been facing stiffer competition and has beaten the likes of Jayson Velez, Ruben Tamayo, and Rene Alvarado. He does have a loss in the World Series of Boxing to Braulio Avila by points, but that’s considered to be a part of his amateur record.
Garcia hasn’t beaten many opponents that are well known outside of Mexico. He has beaten the likes of Jonathan Perez and Raul Hidalgo, but he also has losses to Hozumi Hasegawa in Japan and Erik Ruiz in his last bout.
Garcia has gone 2-1-1 in professional fights that take place outside of Mexico and it seems a near certainty that his record outside of Mexico will worsen to 2-2-1 on Saturday.
Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2) vs. Joe Smith Jr. (22-1); Light Heavyweights
Bernard Hopkins first professional fight took place in 1988, one year before his opponent Joe Smith was born.
Hopkins has claimed that Saturday will be his last professional fight, but many wonder if he will uphold that promise if he wins in convincing fashion.
Hopkins turned pro after being released from prison in 1988 and lost his debut fight to Clinton Mitchell. But his career after that loss has been stellar and clearly hall of fame worthy.
Hopkins is 51 years old and will be 24 years older than Joe Smith when they step into the ring. However, Hopkins will have a one inch height advantage and a two inch reach advantage.
Currently, Smith probably has the edge in power. He has stopped eighteen of his opponents while Hopkins has stopped thirty two. However, Hopkins’ last stoppage victory came in 2004 against Oscar De La Hoya.
Hopkins has fought nearly everyone that had a name in the middleweight division and has a very impressive list of boxers that he has defeated. He has beaten the likes of Joe Lipsey, John David Jackson, Glen Johnson, Keith Holmes, Felix Trinidad, William Joppy, Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik, Roy Jones Jr., Jean Pascal, Tavoris Cloud, Karo Murat, and Beibut Shumeno.
He has losses to boxers such as Sergey Kovalev, Chad Dawson, Joe Calzaghe, Jermain Taylor, and Roy Jones Jr.
Joe Smith Jr. became well known with his shocking upset TKO over Andrzej Fonfara in his last bout. His only other well known victory came against Will Rosinsky. His lone loss was early on in his career to Eddie Caminero in only his seventh professional fight.
The biggest concern about Hopkins is his age and his recent inactivity. Not only is Hopkins fifty one years old and close to mandatory retirement age, he also hasn’t fought since 2014, over two years ago and was forty nine years old at the time. Joe Smith has faced six different opponents since Hopkins last fought and fought three times in 2015 and twice in 2016.
They say father time is undefeated, but it appears Hopkins is intent on beating father time. This writer isn’t sure Hopkins will beat father time in the long run, but is fairly confident he can beat Joe Smith, even if he’s over the age of fifty.
Will Joe Smith, Jr. Bring Bernard Hopkins to His Waterloo?
By: Ken Hissner
Will Long Islands Joe Smith, Jr., 22-1 (18) bring former champion Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins, 55-7-2 (32), to his Waterloo dealing Hopkins his first knockout defeat?
For Smith at 27 his career was started back in 2009 and seemed to have his share of hand-picked opponents up until his last fight. He scored his biggest win stopping Poland’s Andrzej Fonfara, 28-3, out of Chicago, in the first round in June of 2016 which was Smith’s last fight. With the win he took the WBC International title.
On the other hand Hopkins hasn’t fought since losing every round to Sergey Kovalev in November of 2014 in a unification fight. Hopkins will turn 52 in January and has fought in California where the fight will be held on December 17th at the Forum, in Inglewood.
For Smith his first fight off the east coast was in his last fight in Chicago. How he will fair with the California environment will be determined at fight time.
Prior to Hopkins match with Joe Calzaghe he said “no white boy will ever beat me or I won’t be able to return to the hood!” After his loss to Calzaghe in his next fight he defeated previously unbeaten Kelly Pavlik back in 2008. Only since then have his last three opponents been white of which he went had two wins and the loss to Kovalev. Is it a co-incidence his chose a white fighter to wrap up his career? I wouldn’t underestimate Smith if I were Hopkins, especially since he hasn’t fought in just over two years. The confidence of Smith must be at his career highest after his last fight. Let’s hope it’s the “Aliens” last fight win or lose. He certainly has enough money to carry him for life!
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.
The Return of The Executioner: Bernard Hopkins Farewell Fight
By: Matthew N. Becher
Sixteen Years after his conquering knockout win against Felix Trinidad in Madison Square Garden, and over one year removed from his last fight and loss to Sergey Kovalev, the great Bernard Hopkins will enter the ring for one last time as a prize fighter.
On December 17th, live on HBO from the famous Forum in Inglewood, California, the ageless one, 51 year old Hopkins will take on Joe Smith Jr. (22-1 18KO) in a light heavyweight contest to close out the future hall of famers career.
Hopkins last fight was against current unified light heavyweight champion, Sergey Kovalev. It was the most one sided loss of Hopkins career. He was 49 at the time, and though he lost, he did something that almost nobody would do, and that is challenge and actually fight one of the most feared men in the world. Hopkins was no match for the much younger man, but he took the chance, did not get hurt and may have proved that if he was younger may have been able to thwart the current pound for pound lister.
Bernard Hopkins career started in 1988, with a loss to Clinton Mitchell, that is one year before Joe Smith Jr. was even born. Hopkins wouldn’t regain himself until 2 years later when he would continue is hall of fame career. Hopkins would eventually become the IBF Middleweight champion of the world in 1994 and regain his title for the next 11 years. In that time frame he would unify the division, while defeating the likes of Glen Johnson, Keith Holmes, Felix Trinidad, William Joppy and Oscar De La Hoya.
In 2006, Hopkins would jump up in weight class, to the Light Heavyweight division where he would win his first of many titles in the division, by outpointing Antonio Tarver. He would go on to unify belts as a Light Heavyweight at the age of 48, becoming the oldest man to ever do so. He would defeat Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik, Roy Jones Jr. Jean Pascal, Tavoris Cloud and Beibut Shumenov in the 175lb class. All as a man over 40 years old.
Joe Smith Jr. is a relatively unknown fighter from Long Island. He works his days as a union construction worker, and trains as a professional boxer at night. He recently made headline news with his stunning knockout of Andrzej Fonfara and will look to be the man to retire Hopkins in his final match.
Hopkins is a sure fire bet for a spot in the boxing hall of fame 5 years after his final appearance. He was already 1/5th of the way there, but always said he would fight one last time, into his 50s. His ability has a defensive fighters has never seemed to diminish, and most people don’t worry about him getting hurt. He is for one, not doing this for the money, which he does not need. This is more about a man proving that age is nothing but a number, and going out for one last time to show us, that he was cut from another cloth, one that many of the younger fighters should look to emulate.
Bernard Hopkins’ Grand Exit
By: Brandon Bernica
When Bernard Hopkins speaks, you listen. It’s not just the engaging mannerisms or his glaring visage, though. That’s not why you’re drawn to him. Rather, his pull lies in the scope of his knowledge of boxing. It feels like he elaborates on the small crevices and details that blow past the mind of every other analyst or pundit. You probably didn’t notice the half-step back that fighter took to open up room for the hook. But Bernard did. Face it: he just sees the game completely differently than the rest of us. He’s a different breed.
Argument can be made as to whether Bernard’s uncanny ability to dissect the in’s and out’s of boxing stems from his talent in the ring, or whether that talent is a symptom of his knowledge. Really, it doesn’t matter, because what can’t be argued is that Bernard has dominated the sport for a greater span of time than mostly any other boxer. But when news broke recently that Bernard’s last fight will be in 2017, the impending shadow of closure falling on his career finally felt like reality to those who have followed him closest.
Bernard stated that he’d love to end his career the way Kobe Bryant did, and who wouldn’t? With 60 points his last game, recapturing his prime on the way out, it’s practically unfathomable. The problem is, boxing glory is largely proportional to the caliber of opponent across from you. Put it this way: the lesser the opponent, the lesser the spoils. And at age 51 with excessive time in-between fights, the odds against a picturesque ending continue to mount.
It’s not like Bernard hasn’t trampled the odds before. He became the oldest belt holder in boxing history at 48 years old. He clobbered the legendary Felix Trinidad after few gave him any chance. Maybe the question we need to ask ourselves isn’t whether Hopkins can do it, it’s whether enough magic remains in the palms of his hands to clench out one last signature victory.
To exit out on top, Hopkins is going to need the perfect dance partner. A noteworthy name, not too heavy, not too dangerous, not too prime, all ingredients required in his last opponent. So who comes to mind? What if a 3rd fight with Jean Pascal interests him? The two split their first two meetings, and a third summit against a potentially fading Pascal could bode well. Maybe Hopkins takes on heavy-fisted young gun Artur Beterbiev and does what he does best: defuses punchers of their power. Or, if he’s looking for a final pay day, there’s a titlist from the UK named James DeGale, who’s lighter, proven, and a ticket seller.
All Hopkins needs to avoid is getting greedy. The worry is that, with a track record of surmounting the insurmountable, he will throw his chances to the wind and challenge someone like the winner of the Ward-Kovalev superfight. Both men would be favored against Hopkins any day of the week – especially considering that Kovalev already dominated Hopkins once. But with Hopkins, the rest of the equation figures itself out. He eats right, trains hard, and fights smart. Don’t doubt that he’s going to stray from destroying any chance to add one more notch to his belt.
With all that being said, the stark truth remains that Hopkins really can’t disappoint us with a game effort. Even if he’s floored within the opening seconds, fans already have moments from his career to cling onto. But something beckons that this is more than icing on the cake. This is one last shot to defy the status quo. This is the lasting image the public will have etched in their minds whenever his name is brought up in legacy conversations. Even if he doesn’t admit it, much more is at stake than what appears on the surface. But just as Kobe long knew he’d hold his hand high in triumph as he departed Staples Center forever, somewhere deep down, Bernard Hopkins believes the same.