Friday, June 09, 2023  |



Joe Smith wants to KO Bernard Hopkins, trainer says

Fighters Network

The opportunity was too good to pass up. The chance to screw up the retirement party for the living legend of pugilism, the genetic freak with the blood that is half plasma, half liquid from the fountain of youth, had Joe Smith give a conclusive “hell yeah” when his team asked him about taking on 51-year-old Bernard Hopkins on Dec. 17, in Inglewood, California, and on HBO.

Jerry Capobianco trains the Long Islander with Tommy Gallagher. That’s a bunch o buckets of proud and fiery Irish and Italian American blood coursing through the veins of a crew yanked right out of the ’70s, in a good way, to the present day. There was no hemming, hawing, calls for purse bids, and the like; no, Smith told Cap he wanted to KO Hopkins, snuff his career, so his own could advance. Smith is a type born in the wrong era–he’d gladly volunteer to enter a time machine to be a NY-based fighter in the ’60s or ’70s when there were fight cards five nights a week in NY.

Cap told me he’s as confident as Gallagher that Smith is too young and strong and fresh for Hopkins, though he acknowledged “B-Hop” is still extremely wily. “Since the win over Fonfara, Joe, confidence wise is through the roof.”

Cap said he was surprised to hear Hopkins talking KO. The last time that happened, George W. Bush was serving his first term. “Yeah, even when Joe had his jaw broke, early in his career, he didn’t even wobble. That’s one thing I was not even thinking about. Hopkins doesn’t throw enough punches to KO Joe!”

Ah but no one should be underestimating Hopkins, because he’s long in the tooth and lost his last outing. Cap isn’t. “I understand people calling him the favorite going into this one,” he said. But all those fights and years have worn him down, the NY tutor said. “Against Kovalev, he just survived. And he’s now had a long layoff. I watched and watched that fight. I tried to see what the people who think he beats Joe are thinking. He’s 52!”

Cap said Smith is a freak in his own right, athletically gifted. That will be apparent on Dec. 17, he said. They aren’t doing this for the money, he continued. The purse is not a kings ransom, he declared, but the payoff will come if and when he wins, on that grand HBO stage. “We are happy to have this huge opportunity,” Cap said, in closing. “We are happy Hopkins thinks he can beat us!”