Bernard Hopkins Farewell Spoiled by Not Your Regular Joe

SMITH SPOILS B-HOP’S FINALE — INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A few years ago, when Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins was in one of his periodic periods of extended inactivity that wasn’t quite a retirement, boxing’s ultimate oldie but goodie said he would be more than willing to lace up the gloves again, but only if it was a “meaningful fight” and not against “some Joe the plumber.”

Let it be stipulated here that the opponent for Hopkins’ farewell bout, Joe Smith Jr., is not a plumber. He’s a 27-year-old construction worker from Long Island, N.Y., a card-carrying member of Laborers’ Union Local 66 who is quick to identify himself as just a regular guy from a blue-collar community trying to make a better life for himself. But he’s a regular guy who is beginning to demonstrate he is just as capable of disassembling big-name foes in the ring as he is of putting stuff together outside of it.

Smith (23-1, 19 KOs) spoiled Hopkins’ sentiment-drenched, HBO-televised farewell to boxing here Saturday night at the Forum, unfurling a barrage of loaded-up punches that sent the nearly 52-year-old legend sailing through the ropes and on to the cold, hard floor. Although by rule Hopkins (55-8-2, 32 KOs) had 20 seconds to climb back into action and continue his seemingly futile quest to give his finale a happy ending, Smith wasn’t inclined to wait for the outcome to be officially certified. He leaped onto the ropes in the blue (his) corner, his arms upraised in triumph, as the grand old man pondered the viability of even attempting, as damaged goods, to continue a fight that already must have seemed a hopeless cause to 6,513 spectators, most of whom clearly wanted Hopkins to yet again tweak Father Time’s nose.

It was a decision that moments later was taken out of the Philadelphian’s hands as referee Jack Reiss dutifully counted to 20, then awarded Smith a knockout victory, the first loss inside the distance of Hopkins’ 28-year professional career that spanned all or part of five U.S. Presidencies and came within 34 days of adding a sixth.

“I counted to 20,” Reiss confirmed. “(Hopkins) got punched in the ring, fell back and snapped his ankle in the ring. Was it (Smith’s) fault? No. (Hopkins) got hit hard enough (to sustain the injury in a conventional boxing sense).”

Not that Hopkins is particularly conversant with the works of Dylan Thomas, but his defiant rebuttal to Reiss’ harsh but accurate assessment called to mind the late Welsh poet’s take on the effects of the aging process, which for some fighters can arrive in a rush, and for others by creeping up on a little cat’s paws.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

               Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

               Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

As might be expected, Hopkins raged, raged against the dying of his long-bright light as an active boxer. Of his eight losses as a pro, he has admitted defeat in only two of those, in the first of his two meetings with Roy Jones Jr. on May 22, 1993, and in his most recent outing prior facing Smith, against Sergey Kovalev on Nov. 8, 2014. He has maintained that all the other losses or draws on his record – vs. Clinton Mitchell, Jermain Taylor (twice), Joe Calzaghe, Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal (in their first fight) – could have and probably should have gone in his favor. In several cases, that may well have been the case. He has not always gotten the benefit of the doubt on close calls.

Limping back to the ring for a post-fight press conference, Hopkins again forwarded the notion that he was just beginning to gather momentum and would soon have taken control had not he been “pushed” out of the ring by Smith. And maybe he truly believes that, although his words indicate they were uttered in a state of denial, not California.

“I think the momentum was clearly playing into my hands,” he said. “Look at the scorecards up to the eighth round. One judge had it for me, one had it for him and one had it a draw, I believe. That doesn’t sound like (Smith) was blowing a 51-year-old guy out. Everybody knows that I’m not a guy that wins the first four or five rounds of a fight. That’s not how my style has been.

“I didn’t want the fight to end the way it did. I’d rather be beaten where it was clear to everybody. But it seems like there’s been spots in my career where there’s controversy or whatever. I could talk about this or that in my career and we’d be here for two days. I am probably the only fighter in history who’s been pushed out of the ring by two fighters.”

That was a reference to the first of Hopkins’ two bouts with Robert Allen, on Aug. 28, 1998, in Las Vegas, which was ruled a no-contest. But Hopkins, who also injured his ankle in the fourth round of that one, wasn’t pushed by Allen; it was by referee Mills Lane, who was a tad overzealous in trying to separate the fighters as they were tangled up in a clinch. Hopkins led on two of the three scorecards then, and his subsequent 10th-round stoppage of Allen in their rematch 5½ months later affirmed his contention that he was always the better fighter.

The numbers against Smith, however, tell a different story. For one thing, it wasn’t a 1-1-1 standoff entering the climactic eighth round; Smith led 69-64 on the card of judge Thomas Taylor, which seemed about right, and by 67-66 on Tim Cheatham’s, but Pat Russell’s 67-66 edge for Hopkins was at least questionable. Punch statistics compiled by CompuBox showed Smith, who defended his fringe WBC International light heavyweight title in the scheduled 12-rounder, out-working and out-landing Hopkins, connecting on 86 of 405 (an admittedly tepid 21.2 percent) to B-Hop’s 54-185 (29.2 percent). But Smith was the aggressor throughout, and it was clear that his blows were more hurtful than those landed by Hopkins, who closes his career not having won in abbreviated fashion since he knocked out Oscar De La Hoya in nine rounds on Sept. 18, 2004 — a span of 17 fights spread over 12 years, three months.

Make no mistake, the final sequence of punches – punctuated by a jolting overhand right followed by two left hooks that landed flush – would have put away a bunch of very good light heavyweights, and were reminiscent of the exclamation-point victory that had brought Smith to public attention, when he stopped world-rated Andrzej Fonfara in one round on June 18 of this year. The lettering on the front of Smith’s waistband (The Future) for the Hopkins fight now seem a harbinger of promising things to come for the Irish-American bomber.

“It’s the best feeling in the world to accomplish something I set out for and wanted to do,” said Smith, who was paid $400,000 for his night’s work compared to the $800,000 earned by B-Hop. “I kept hitting him until I saw him go out (of the ring). I landed that (final) left hook and he went out. I hit him four or five clean shots and they were good shots on the button.

“I came here to win tonight and move forward in my career, and I did it. I said I’d be the first one to stop him in his career and I was. (But) I have a lot of respect for Bernard. Lots of people love Bernard and still will because he’s a true champion.”

Hopkins’ recollection was that he was “grazed” by a left hook and “the next thing I know (Smith) was throwing me out of the ring.” But when his bruised pride subsides and he looks at the tape with a cooler head, chances are he’ll be more accepting of his failed attempt to go a bridge too far in his boxing life, or two, if you include Kovalev.

But nothing can or should detract from who and what the remarkable Bernard Hopkins has been to a sport that never has witnessed anyone even close to his advanced years maintain such a high level of excellence. The clock now begins ticking on the mandatory five-year waiting period until he is inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y. A division-record 20 middleweight title defenses is only one of a slew of accomplishments for the reformed ex-con, which include his being the oldest man ever to win or retain a widely recognized world title (at 49 years, 111 days) and having logged the third-most world championship rounds ever, behind only Hall of Famers Emile Griffith and Abe Attell.

Hopkins, who will continue to be a presence in boxing as an executive with Golden Boy Promotions and commentator for HBO, should be given ample credit for always seeking out what he described as the “toughest, baddest opponents,” and giving fight fans the satisfaction of knowing he “went out as a soldier.”

It will be a long time, if ever, before the fight game sees his likes again.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

COMMENTS

-Kid Blast :

Here is my "nephew's" quote on another site and I essentially agree with it--he once beat Alfredo Escalera so he knows his stuff: [SIZE=3] "EZ E Yep, a terrible loser. It reminded me of the first Bhop vs Dawson. He played his way out of that one with that "I hurt my shoulder..." routine. My granddaughter has fallen harder on the Monkey Bars and gets up undaunted and she's not a chiseled career athlete. Anyway, I've watched the ending 3 times and Bhops was at it AGAIN. He wasn't complaining about his back, nor his head. He was saying the he hurt his ankle, "It's throbbing" "It hurts" "I can walk but I can't move around..." With the same crybaby face of before he whined, "he pushed me" just like my kids used to say. He DIDN'T hit his ankles. From what I saw his ankles were IN THE AIR as he feel! He was making all kinds of excuses, trying to convince all those commission guys, Doctors, reporters... Raise the volume and listen well for yourselves, he knew he had no other way out. As for the official scoring, a joke! I don't always agree with Lederman but I did this time, round for round. Kellerman was hugging Bhops nuts throughout, sickening. Lampley as well, but to a lesser degree. Russell made a fool of himself having Bhops ahead. Time for him to get it together or retire along with Bhop. There's no denying that Hopkins has had a magnificent career. He was boring for the most part, relied a lot of intelligent fouling, shrewd bullying, not one to abbey by the rules.. but that's all part of what made him great. He was special and EXTRAORDINARY in every sense of the word. But.. he sort of went out like a Sammy "The Bull" Gravano. This could be the one fight many fans will remember most. Not because he lost BUT.. by the way he carried on after going through the ropes. If he had just refrained from 'sore losing' and watched the tapes and later admitted defeat nobly it would've been a GREAT way to enter retirement regardless of the loss. No, I'm not big Bhops fan, but not a hater. I recognize greatness, his greatness. Peace to all. Joe hit him with some monster bombs. He had 20 seconds to get back in. He didn’t make it. End of fight, In fact, he was lucky he did not get back in there. A rematch would be like authorizing a “killing”. Hops is done and has been for some time. The way he was taking those short steps around the ring was painful to watch but reflected the fact that once again, you don’t beat Father Time. He has always been a sore loser and whines more than JMM. That didn't change last night. BTW, Is it true that one judge had it for Hopkins one had it for Smith,and one had it a draw? If so, that is a sickening disgrace and warrants an investigation.


-Kid Blast :

Lost is the shocking outcome is the fact that Joe Smith is a humble human being. If he improves his jab and movements, together with his power, he could become a champion whom youngsters will look up to. A decent blue collar guy who made good. Good for him!


-Radam G :

B-Hop was never fare welling, anyway. And he will be back. Dude came into the pros losing his first scrap. He has too much pride to go out losing his last bout. Expect for him to shock and and awe us all again in 2017. Holla!


-teaser :

Bernard was holding his own in there until the end ...quite an accomplishment for a 51 yr old fighting a physically bigger faster stronger younger guy ...I'd watch this Joe Smith fight again ...scary finish to see Bernard hit the floor like that ...man he is lucky could have easily broken his neck with a little different angle ...should be a safety net or something to keep fighters from hitting the floor .


-Radam G :

Bernard was holding his own in there until the end ...quite an accomplishment for a 51 yr old fighting a physically bigger faster stronger younger guy ...I'd watch this Joe Smith fight again ...scary finish to see Bernard hit the floor like that ...man he is lucky could have easily broken his neck with a little different angle ...should be a safety net or something to keep fighters from hitting the floor .
B-Hop got caught because he was too relaxed and c0cksure. He was not really the first smooth 50-something year-old standout. The late, greats Jack Johnson and Bob FitzSimmon were magnificent with at over a half of century old. And Saul Mamby didn't look too bad fighting at 60 years old. Holla!


-amayseng :

B-Hop got caught because he was too relaxed and c0cksure. He was not really the first smooth 50-something year-old standout. The late, greats Jack Johnson and Bob FitzSimmon were magnificent with at over a half of century old. And Saul Mamby didn't look too bad fighting at 60 years old. Holla!
Bhop was doing fairly well the last few rounds making the young kid miss and landing some shots. Either way Joe was too young and strong and active with constant pressure and I dont think Bhop would have won a decision down the stretch. No shame from a 51 year old phenom. First, Bhop landed on his head on the concrete, horrible and scary to watch he was def out of his senses. Something needs to be done about that. Second, what a retched human being that black man was to move out of the way instead of catching Bhop flying through the ropes, no assistance be damned that is a freaking concrete floor. I am dealing personally with my son having a TBI from head trauma, I professionally deal with TBI patients as a physical therapist so I am intervening my opinion into the rule book of not letting a boxer be caught or assisted as he is flying on his head 8 feet onto a concrete floor. Third, come on HBO you interviewed a guy 5 mins earlier who took a flush combination and landed on his head onto the concrete floor, he was out of his senses, that is unprofessional and despicable. Bhop is a prideful guy and no matter he got KO'd out of the ring the guy took on a strong young challenger and went out like a man. He didnt take on Andre Berto for his last fight...hahah, that makes me laugh.. Anyways Joe is a humble and respectable young fighter, he has some good tools but needs a trainer to elevate him to that next level, hoping he finds one.


-Kid Blast :

test


-dollar bond :

Joe represents the American dream. Humble, affable, hardworking, and clean living. Great story.


-deepwater2 :

Bhop was doing fairly well the last few rounds making the young kid miss and landing some shots. Either way Joe was too young and strong and active with constant pressure and I dont think Bhop would have won a decision down the stretch. No shame from a 51 year old phenom. First, Bhop landed on his head on the concrete, horrible and scary to watch he was def out of his senses. Something needs to be done about that. Second, what a retched human being that black man was to move out of the way instead of catching Bhop flying through the ropes, no assistance be damned that is a freaking concrete floor. I am dealing personally with my son having a TBI from head trauma, I professionally deal with TBI patients as a physical therapist so I am intervening my opinion into the rule book of not letting a boxer be caught or assisted as he is flying on his head 8 feet onto a concrete floor. Third, come on HBO you interviewed a guy 5 mins earlier who took a flush combination and landed on his head onto the concrete floor, he was out of his senses, that is unprofessional and despicable. Bhop is a prideful guy and no matter he got KO'd out of the ring the guy took on a strong young challenger and went out like a man. He didnt take on Andre Berto for his last fight...hahah, that makes me laugh.. Anyways Joe is a humble and respectable young fighter, he has some good tools but needs a trainer to elevate him to that next level, hoping he finds one.
That scumbag ran away from a falling Hopkins. Hopkins is lucky not to have spit his skull on the bare concrete. Does that Cali commission require padding around the ring? If not they better put that mat around the ring and cross their fingers. I've watched Joe come up in the NYC amateur program. The kid held his own and beat most of the top guys. He was seasoned and ready to grab a prize. Seanie vs Joe at the garden next St Patricks day!


-amayseng :

That scumbag ran away from a falling Hopkins. Hopkins is lucky not to have spit his skull on the bare concrete. Does that Cali commission require padding around the ring? If not they better put that mat around the ring and cross their fingers. I've watched Joe come up in the NYC amateur program. The kid held his own and beat most of the top guys. He was seasoned and ready to grab a prize. Seanie vs Joe at the garden next St Patricks day!
Absolutely disturbing to watch a human being purposely let another human being fall 8' onto their head on a concrete floor. It is not like he had to run 12 feet to get to him and dive. It would have been of minimal effort to not move out of the way and just put your hands up and catch/slow down Hopkins from crashing head first to the concrete floor. I dont know how everyone is overlooking this, that guy is a bastard human being. Yes there should be padding around he ring apron, it is 2016 how in the world has no one thought of that yet?


-Radam G :

it has been thought about and was around some squared jungles for a while until corruption came in and said, "forget it." Our sport is awesome and slimy at the same time. so many pugs have been killed and injured by falling out of the ring. Somebody or his sidekick ought to write a piece. I personally saw two amateur pugs died from injuries after tumbling out of dat squared jungle. Holla!


-larueboenig :

* SMITH SPOILS B-HOP?S FINALE -- INGLEWOOD, Calif. ? A few years ago, when Bernard ?The Executioner? Hopkins was in one of his periodic periods of extended inactivity that wasn?t quite a retirement, boxing?s ultimate oldie but goodie said he would be more than willing to lace up the gloves again, but only if it was a ?meaningful fight? and not against ?some Joe the plumber.? Let it be stipulated here that the opponent for Hopkins? farewell bout, Joe Smith Jr., is not a plumber. He?s a 27-year-old construction worker from Long Island, N.Y., a card-carrying member of Laborers? Union Local 66 who is quick to identify himself as just a regular guy from a blue-collar community trying to make a better life for himself. But he?s a regular guy who is beginning to demonstrate he is just as capable of disassembling big-name foes in the ring as he is of putting stuff together outside of it. Smith (23-1, 19 KOs) spoiled Hopkins? sentiment-drenched, HBO-televised farewell to boxing here Saturday night at the Forum, unfurling a barrage of loaded-up punches that sent the nearly 52-year-old legend sailing through the ropes and on to the cold, hard floor. Although by rule Hopkins (55-8-2, 32 KOs) had 20 seconds to climb back into action and continue his seemingly futile quest to give his finale a happy ending, Smith wasn?t inclined to wait for the outcome to be officially certified. He leaped onto the ropes in the blue (his) corner, his arms upraised in triumph, as the grand old man pondered the viability of even attempting, as damaged goods, to continue a fight that already must have seemed a hopeless cause to 6,513 spectators, most of whom clearly wanted Hopkins to yet again tweak Father Time?s nose. It was a decision that moments later was taken out of the Philadelphian?s hands as referee Jack Reiss dutifully counted to 20, then awarded Smith a knockout victory, the first loss inside the distance of Hopkins? 28-year professional career that spanned all or part of five U.S. Presidencies and came within 34 days of adding a sixth. ?I counted to 20,? Reiss confirmed. ?(Hopkins) got punched in the ring, fell back and snapped his ankle in the ring. Was it (Smith?s) fault? No. (Hopkins) got hit hard enough (to sustain the injury in a conventional boxing sense).? Not that Hopkins is particularly conversant with the works of Dylan Thomas, but his defiant rebuttal to Reiss? harsh but accurate assessment called to mind the late Welsh poet?s take on the effects of the aging process, which for some fighters can arrive in a rush, and for others by creeping up on a little cat?s paws. Do not go gentle into that good night, ************** Old age should burn and rave at close of day; ************** Rage, rage against the dying of the light. As might be expected, Hopkins raged, raged against the dying of his long-bright light as an active boxer. Of his eight losses as a pro, he has admitted defeat in only two of those, in the first of his two meetings with Roy Jones Jr. on May 22, 1993, and in his most recent outing prior facing Smith, against Sergey Kovalev on Nov. 8, 2014. He has maintained that all the other losses or draws on his record ? vs. Clinton Mitchell, Jermain Taylor (twice), Joe Calzaghe, Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal (in their first fight) ? could have and probably should have gone in his favor. In several cases, that may well have been the case. He has not always gotten the benefit of the doubt on close calls. Limping back to the ring for a post-fight press conference, Hopkins again forwarded the notion that he was just beginning to gather momentum and would soon have taken control had not he been ?pushed? out of the ring by Smith. And maybe he truly believes that, although his words indicate they were uttered in a state of denial, not California. ?I think the momentum was clearly playing into my hands,? he said. ?Look at the scorecards up to the eighth round. One judge had it for me, one had it for him and one had it a draw, I believe. That doesn?t sound like (Smith) was blowing a 51-year-old guy out. Everybody knows that I?m not a guy that wins the first four or five rounds of a fight. That?s not how my style has been. ?I didn?t want the fight to end the way it did. I?d rather be beaten where it was clear to everybody. But it seems like there?s been spots in my career where there?s controversy or whatever. I could talk about this or that in my career and we?d be here for two days. I am probably the only fighter in history who?s been pushed out of the ring by two fighters.? That was a reference to the first of Hopkins? two bouts with Robert Allen, on Aug. 28, 1998, in Las Vegas, which was ruled a no-contest. But Hopkins, who also injured his ankle in the fourth round of that one, wasn?t pushed by Allen; it was by referee Mills Lane, who was a tad overzealous in trying to separate the fighters as they were tangled up in a clinch. Hopkins led on two of the three scorecards then, and his subsequent 10th-round stoppage of Allen in their rematch 5? months later affirmed his contention that he was always the better fighter. The numbers against Smith, however, tell a different story. For one thing, it wasn?t a 1-1-1 standoff entering the climactic eighth round; Smith led 69-64 on the card of judge Thomas Taylor, which seemed about right, and by 67-66 on Tim Cheatham?s, but Pat Russell?s 67-66 edge for Hopkins was at least questionable. Punch statistics compiled by CompuBox showed Smith, who defended his fringe WBC International light heavyweight title in the scheduled 12-rounder, out-working and out-landing Hopkins, connecting on 86 of 405 (an admittedly tepid 21.2 percent) to B-Hop?s 54-185 (29.2 percent). But Smith was the aggressor throughout, and it was clear that his blows were more hurtful than those landed by Hopkins, who closes his career not having won in abbreviated fashion since he knocked out Oscar De La Hoya in nine rounds on Sept. 18, 2004 -- a span of 17 fights spread over 12 years, three months. Make no mistake, the final sequence of punches ? punctuated by a jolting overhand right followed by two left hooks that landed flush ? would have put away a bunch of very good light heavyweights, and were reminiscent of the exclamation-point victory that had brought Smith to public attention, when he stopped world-rated Andrzej Fonfara in one round on June 18 of this year. The lettering on the front of Smith?s waistband (The Future) for the Hopkins fight now seem a harbinger of promising things to come for the Irish-American bomber. ?It?s the best feeling in the world to accomplish something I set out for and wanted to do,? said Smith, who was paid $400,000 for his night?s work compared to the $800,000 earned by B-Hop. ?I kept hitting him until I saw him go out (of the ring). I landed that (final) left hook and he went out. I hit him four or five clean shots and they were good shots on the button. ?I came here to win tonight and move forward in my career, and I did it. I said I?d be the first one to stop him in his career and I was. (But) I have a lot of respect for Bernard. Lots of people love Bernard and still will because he?s a true champion.? Hopkins? recollection was that he was ?grazed? by a left hook and ?the next thing I know (Smith) was throwing me out of the ring.? But when his bruised pride subsides and he looks at the tape with a cooler head, chances are he?ll be more accepting of his failed attempt to go a bridge too far in his boxing life, or two, if you include Kovalev. But nothing can or should detract from who and what the remarkable Bernard Hopkins has been to a sport that never has witnessed anyone even close to his advanced years maintain such a high level of excellence. The clock now begins ticking on the mandatory five-year waiting period until he is inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y. A division-record 20 middleweight title defenses is only one of a slew of accomplishments for the reformed ex-con, which include his being the oldest man ever to win or retain a widely recognized world title (at 49 years, 111 days) and having logged the third-most world championship rounds ever, behind only Hall of Famers Emile Griffith and Abe Attell. Hopkins, who will continue to be a presence in boxing as an executive with Golden Boy Promotions and commentator for HBO, should be given ample credit for always seeking out what he described as the ?toughest, baddest opponents,? and giving fight fans the satisfaction of knowing he ?went out as a soldier.? It will be a long time, if ever, before the fight game sees his likes again. Photo credit: Al Applerose Check out more boxing news on video at [url=http://theboxingchannel.tv]The Boxing Channel
Joe looked like a tank