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Deal in place for Smith vs. Hopkins Dec. 17 on HBO

Bernard Hopkins (right) vs. Beibut Shumenov. Photo by: Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

A deal is in place for 51-year-old ring legend Bernard Hopkins to face upset specialist Joe Smith Jr. in an HBO main event on Dec. 17 at the Forum in Inglewood, California, multiple sources told on Monday morning.

The card is being described as Hopkins’ farewell fight. However, with the ageless Hopkins, a win against a power-puncher such as Smith would surely spark interest of renewing his career, another source close to the fight said. Golden Boy president Eric Gomez later confirmed the deal, as did Joe DeGuardia, who handles Smith. Hopkins is a minority partner with Golden Boy. News of a pending deal between Hopkins and Smith was first reported by Michael Woods. “It’s not signed yet but we agreed on all the major points,” Gomez said in a phone interview on Monday afternoon. “We’re going to go to contract now but we have an agreement.”

Gomez said this was definitely Hopkins’ final fight and that plans are being made for a special sendoff. “This is it,” he said. “It’s his final fight. It’s final. He’s not gong to come back anymore. He wants to go out his way, and that’s all.”

Philly’s Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 knockouts) hasn’t fought since he lost to light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev Nov. 8 of 2014 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Hopkins was dominated in that fight, rising from a knockdown in the first round and taking a hellacious beating in 12th, though he had his moments in the fight.

Long Island’s Smith rose to prominence after his shocking first-round knockout of Andrzej Fonfara on June 18, by far the biggest win of Smith’s career since few had heard of him. The bout with the 27-year-old Smith will come nearly a month shy of Hopkins’ 52nd birthday on Jan. 15. The choice of Smith (22-1, 18 KOs) is a bit curious since he’s known as a puncher and Hopkins would risk suffering a stoppage loss for the first time in his legendary career.

But with Hopkins, taking risks and facing challenges is nothing new. He is the oldest fighter to ever win a title, doing so at age 46 and then again at 48. He made a division-record 20 middleweight defenses, had three different title reigns at light heavyweight and authored numerous upsets against Felix Trinidad, Kelly Pavlik and Antonio Tarver. Now, Hopkins, who is still trim and has stayed in the gym during his time off, will try to turn back the clock once again against Smith. “That’s Bernard,” Gomez said. “He wanted a dangerous guy, a guy that comes forward. He wants a guy that’s dangerous. That’s when he does the best.”

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Ring Magazine Dec 2016

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