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Bernard Hopkins-Joe Smith Jr. Preview

Written By: Chris Nicastro/ Round By Round Boxing

http://roundbyroundboxing.com

On December 17, 2016, from the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, CA, Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs) takes on Joe Smith Jr. (22-1, 18 KOs) in what the AARP-qualifying Hopkins says will be his final fight.

While certainly no superfight, the bout—which will be broadcast on HBO World Championship Boxing—is at least somewhat intriguing as it pits an old, proverbial wizard against an up-and-coming powerhouse underdog in Smith.

Read on for an in-depth preview for the "Final 1," Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Smith Jr.

 

PRE-FIGHT STATS

 

FIGHTER STRENGTHS

BERNARD HOPKINS

 Photo by Tim Larsen/AP

Bernard Hopkins has been a professional fighter for longer than this scribe has been living.

He’s gone through one of the most anomalistic aging processes of any fighter since Archie Moore defied Father Time and successfully fought well past his prime into the 1960's.

Hopkins has likely been able to manage this because he isn’t a guy who goes into fights with his guns blazing. He’s calculated—he’s a thinker, a true professor of the science.

Even at 52 years old, this is going to be his best strength in the ring. He’s much smarter than the young, scrappy Joe Smith Jr. and he knows it.

The game plan, without any doubt, is to go into The Forum with the intentions of giving the young man a hard-earned boxing lesson.

Hopkins takes a huge edge in this fight with his smarts and ability to leave his opponents in the dust through basic skill and boxing ability.

 

JOE SMITH JR.


Amber Williams/RBRBoxing

Joe Smith Jr., unlike the meditative calm behind Bernard Hopkins’ veteran strategies, is probably going to enter the first round with his fists flying doing whatever he can to turn Hopkins into another Andrzej Fonfara.

Smith Jr. made his mark earlier this year after crushing the top 10 Light Heavyweight in the first round with a skull-shattering right hook to the jaw.

Power is going to be Smith’s biggest and perhaps only edge in this fight.

 

FIGHTER WEAKNESSES

BERNARD HOPKINS

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

To put it simply, age can catch up to "The Alien" at any point and for all we know, Bernard Hopkins could be leaving the sport with his back on the canvas.

Hopkins hasn’t fought in over two years, so there are probably some questions about how his body has been aging in that timespan.

If he shows up as nimble as he did against Sergey Kovalev, he should be alright—Joe Smith Jr. is no Kovalev, but the question is in the open to be answered.

Hopkins, at this age, doesn’t have nearly as much power in his hands as he used to. He had difficulty keeping Kovalev off of him as his shots never did much to harm the Russian, so it will be interesting to see how well his power will keep away a tough-as-nails guy like Smith Jr.  

JOE SMITH JR.

Photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing

Oh boy, we don’t really know much about Joe Smith Jr., do we?

All we truly have to go off of is his upset performance against Andrzej Fonfara from earlier this year. In all honesty, Smith Jr. was getting beaten up a lot in that one round of action.

Even still, that fight seems like more of a Fonfara loss because of hubris than a Smith Jr. win because of skill.

Smith Jr. really doesn’t appear to have much boxing IQ and this is going to be a major downfall against a ring legend like Bernard Hopkins.

It doesn’t matter how much power you have. If you don’t know how to use it, it’s useless.

 

PREDICTION


Photo by Tom Casino/Showtime

I’m picking Bernard Hopkins by decision in this one.

Andrzej Fonfara took that right hand shot because he got cocky and walked his prey down with his hands by his waist. Hopkins is smarter than that. He’s going to make Joe Smith Jr. look like the clubfighter he is, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

 

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