Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Smith: Winner, Recap and Knockout Reaction
Joe Smith Jr. has retained hisWBC international light heavyweight title and sent Bernard Hopkins into retirement with an eighth-round TKOvictory in California on Saturday night.
The end of the fight was controversial, at least from Hopkins’ perspective. Smith unleashed a flurry of heavy punches on Hopkins, who was leaning against the ropes and fell through them all the way down to the floor.
Hopkins was able to stand up on his own outside the ring, walked around for a moment seemingly confused by the situation as the referee’s count reached 20 to end the fight.
Watch: @beastsmithjr knocks @THEREALBHOP out of the ring 53 seconds into round 8, ending the fight. #Final1 https://t.co/Pj2svLUlC9
HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) December 18, 2016
120 Sports had some fun with the end of Hopkins’ fight:
Bernard Hopkins, at age 51, was literally knocked out of the entire boxing ring tonight. #HopkinsSmith pic.twitter.com/bPd3gAT6A5
120 Sports (@120Sports) December 18, 2016
On a more serious note, HBO Boxing noted Smith became the first fighter ever to defeat Hopkins by knockout or TKO. It was an unusual ending to Hopkins’ storied boxing career.
Smith said after the bout on the HBO telecast he thought Hopkins was injured, per Bad Left Hook:
Smith incredibly respectful of Hopkins. If he didnt get injured Im sure hed be back in here.
Bad Left Hook (@badlefthook) December 18, 2016
In February 2015, three months after losing a unanimous decision toSergey Kovalev, Hopkins made it clear he wanted one more fight before ending his career.
“Unlike my business partner Oscar De La Hoya, I’ll be confirming that I’m not retired, I’m looking to make one more historical, meaningful fight before I close out my 27-year career,” Hopkins told Fox Sports (h/tSky Sports).
The size of the moment wasn’t lost on Smith, though he told ESPN’s Dan Rafael he wasn’t going in the ring to be served up as a sacrificial lamb:
It’s a privilege to be on this card.To take on a legend like Bernard is an opportunity I would have never expected. That said, come fight night, that won’t matter because it’ll just be me and him in the ring. My team and I have been training to take on any of the styles Bernard may bring. I’m excited for the night to come, and I’m ready to put on a great show.
Smith was able to put on that kind of show Saturday, earning the win over a marquee star even if Hopkins is well past his prime.
A rising star, Smith followed up his title win overAndrzej Fonfara in June with his first career title defense.
Per CompuBox stats, the punching percentages favored Hopkins, while Smith had the overall advantage in the fight:
Hopkins avg’d 7/23 per round. Smith was 11/51 #HopkinsSmith pic.twitter.com/cbZQ0xNOzd
CompuBox (@CompuBox) December 18, 2016
Rafael had Smith ranked as the No. 9 light heavyweight coming into his matchup with Hopkins. The 27-year-old is still proving himself as one of the division’s best, but this is yet another sign his star will only continue to go up.
While most fights against a 51-year-old opponent wouldn’t yield much to discuss in terms of skill, Hopkins is far from the average boxer his age. He’s always had terrific cardio and a strong chin, never losing by knockout in 66 fights coming into Saturday.
Smith’s win gives him some leeway in terms of future opponents, as he seeks the opportunity to establish himself among the biggest names in the light-heavyweight division.
This was a night being built around Hopkins’ storied career coming to an end, but Smith took the spotlight all to himself with a thrilling victory against one entertainment news kristen stewart of the biggest stars in boxing history.