Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Smith Jr. possible for December 17
By Patrick McHugh: Former two division world champion Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KO) could be coming out of a two-year layoff to face the hard hitting light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. (22-1, 18 KOs) on December 17 on HBO at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
According to Ringtv.com, the fight between #2 WBC, #5 WBA, #13 WBO Smith and the 51-year-old Hopkins is in the works.
This could be the last fight of Hopkins’ long 28-year pro career. However, it’s always possible that Hopkins would choose to continue his boxing career if he defeats the 27-year-old Smith Jr., because it would put Hopkins back in position for a world title shot against the winner of the November 19 fight between Andre Ward and IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev. However, if Ward wins that fight, then it’s unlikely that Hopkins would choose to face him.
It doesn’t matter though. It would be just a payday for Hopkins, because he would be over-matched against Kovalev. It would be seen as another payday for Hopkins, because he lost badly to Kovalev two years ago in losing a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in 2014. The way that Hopkins lost that fight, it would probably be worse if he fought Kovalev a second time, especially with him having been inactive apart from his upcoming possible fight against Smith Jr.
On the undercard of the Hopkins vs. Smith Jr. fight is a fight between former two division world champion Orlando Salido and former World Boxing Council super featherweight champion Takashi Miura. That would be a good fight. It might be better to have the Salido-Miura fight in the main event and the Hopkins-Smith Jr. fight in the co-feature bout.
Hopkins looked really bad against Kovalev. I can’t imagine him looking any better after having been out of the ring for two entire years. 51-years-old is a very, very ripe age for a fighter. I don’t care how good Hopkins was during his career.
At 51, he’s going to be up against it in facing a big puncher with the power, accuracy and youth of Smith Jr. Kovalev is a big puncher, but Smith is right up there with him in power. The only thing we don’t know about Smith is how his stamina will hold up if he’s forced to battle for 12 rounds against Hopkins. Many of Smith’s fights have ended early with him knocking out his opponents.
Last June, Smith Jr. knocked out the highly Andrzej Fonfara in the 1st round in front of Fonfara’s own fans at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois. That fight made big news, because Fonfara was considered the favorite in the eyes of many boxing fans. It’s not that Smith Jr. wasn’t seen as a good fighter. It’s just that most of his wins had come against little known weak opposition. Before his win over Fonfara, Smith’s best victory of his seven-year pro career was a 10 round unanimous decision victory over Will Rosinsky last December.
We don’t know how good Smith Jr. is right now, because Fonfara fought with no discipline at all in just swinging for the fences against Smith. It’s possible that Fonfara might have beaten Smith if he had been more cautious and boxed early in the fight when Smith is known to be dangerous.
You can bet that if Hopkins beats Smith, he’ll start pushing for a fight against the winner of the Kovalev vs. Ward fight. We could see a real mismatch if Hopkins fights either of those guys. It might be better if Hopkins loses to Smith so that a more competitive opponent is matched against the winner of that fight. Hopkins has too much age on him, and he wouldn’t have a chance against Ward or Kovalev.
It’ll be interesting to see how Hopkins copes with the power advantage that Smith will have over him. Kovalev was able to beat Hopkins by doing little more than jabbing him and throwing short punches. Hopkins got a little aggressive in the 1st round, and he ended up getting dropped by Kovalev. After that knockdown, Hopkins played it safe and wound up getting out-worked by the younger, stronger Kovalev. It wasn’t much of a fight.
A win for Hopkins over Smith Jr. still wouldn’t say much though, because Smith hasn’t done much with his career in terms of fighting big names. He just has that win over Fonfara, who is little more than a contender. Now if Hopkins were to beat Artur Beterbiev, it would be a huge accomplishment, because he’s a two-time Olympian with major punching power and past wins over Kovalev in the amateur ranks. That should be the fight that Hopkins is looking to get rather than facing Smith Jr. Obviously, Hopkins and Golden Boy Promotions must see weakness in Smith Jr. for them to want to make this fight.
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