Ahead of the highly anticipated “Final 1” battle between Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins and Joe Smith Jr., the fighters, along with their promoters, held a conference call with a Q&A session for the media.
Also here, we have a Hopkins vs. Smith HBO Boxing video preview. The fight airs on December 17th on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 p.m. ET from the “Fabulous” Forum.
OSCAR DE LA HOYA, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions:
“On December 17, a boxing legend will enter the ring for the final time as Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, at 51 years young, steps into the ring at the Fabulous Forum against Joe Smith Jr., a rising contender in the light heavyweight division who was born three years after Bernard took his first fight. This fight can be seen live on HBO World Championship Boxing on Saturday, December 17.
“At 51 years young, Bernard is not fighting someone who is not a walk in the park. Joe Smith has every opportunity to take control of the fight and win. Hopkins is the type of man to challenge himself and fight the very best. This fight with Joe Smith is a very difficult fight. That is why Bernard Hopkins is a living legend, because he is willing to take on the best and challenge himself. On Dec 17th, Bernard will make history. We are calling it the “Final 1″ and from top to bottom it will be exciting, thrilling, and final fight. It is our plan to end the year of 2016 with a huge bang.”
BERNARD HOPKINS, Future Hall of Famer, Two Division World Champion:
“I want to thank Golden Boy Promotions and HBO that helped put together this legendary fight. It is definitely fighting action from top to bottom. I am very ready to have a final one. I’m in a competition with myself. To stay fresh in the game and to stay fresh in my mind on my end.
“I am challenging myself, as Oscar had mentioned, with Joe Smith Jr. who is one of the best options out there. I am ready, and we are on the final stretch. I’m feeling great as most fighters would say as they are about to get in the ring. I am telling you all to bring your notepads, because come December 17, I am about to bring the textbook about boxing. That’s what I’m going to show you all, so you can see it on Primetime. I am looking forward to the final 1. There will be no more like me.
“Even though I defeated John David Jackson, he is the very best out there and we wanted him in my corner. JDJ is much overlooked, but he is one of the top 3 or 4 trainers. He has known me since I was a younger fighter trying to make it into boxing. If you look at the craftsman ship of JDJ, when you see that a guy not only has the tools, the way to use them in the ring, and you as a fighter have the confidence and trust in your teacher-you’re in great hands. He’s been representing that for many years. We felt that it was a perfect transition, the transition in us knowing each other and working together… When you give your teacher – your coach — all that he wants while you train, come fight night he can give you what you need when you most need it.
“I am done. This will be the “Final 1”. Whether it was JDJ or Naazim [Richardson] in my corner, I will not fight, even if I feel that I can do a lot more. On December 17th, I want to give a performance where you beg me to stay, and it’s a challenge that Joe Smith will have to take on. For fighters to show their greatness, they need someone to bring it out. Timing is everything, and I am doing it in my calculation. I proved a bunch of people wrong already. There is no stone that has not been unturned, meaning that when I look back, I would have done everything that I wanted to.
“I’m also from a union, the state corrections union – it’s a brotherly hood, and some of the best diamonds come from under the rock. These are some of the base of fans for me – especially the young aspiring boxers who I tell to watch me.
“I’m in a competition with myself. When you reach this level of professionalism, you have done things that most fighters, especially the young fighters haven’t done yet. I want to overdo myself. Joe Smith is a hard puncher, he won’t run, is a union guy, he won’t lay back, and he won’t try not to execute me. However, Joe smith has to be trained to pass 4, 5, 6 different styles that I will utilize in the ring, and he is going to have to be smart.
“I will be the matrix, I will be the executioner. I will be everything that I need to be to win. The sweet science is something that I’ve always been addicted too. My fight will be like watching the last game of Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
“After this fight, I will be taking a larger role at Golden Boy Promotions. I will also be doing color commentating, and segments on the fight game. You can call me Houdini – I can do many things.”
JOE DE GUARDIA, President and CEO of Star Boxing:
“It’s a pleasure, we want to thank Golden Boy for giving us and Joe the opportunity for this fight. We echo the thoughts and sentiments about this December 17 fight. Bernard Hopkins is a real legend, and it is a privilege to be on this fight with such a great network. Looking forward, Bernard is going to be taking on a real hungry lion like Joe Smith. He is going to be up for a real surprise. I am proud to be associated with this fight. I know Joe has won the WBC against Andrzej Fonfara earlier this year and will be defending it against Bernard.
“Joe Smith Jr. is symbolic of the American spirit – working with the sledge hammer, a part of the union-and will bring all that hard work to the forum. After Joe Smith Jr. wins this fight, many doors will open, but he has to get through Bernard Hopkins first. Once he does that, every door in the world is his.
“The unions all have Joe on the agenda, and many different unions are supporting. The support has been tremendous-it is one of their own who represents them in the ring.”
JOE SMITH JR., WBC International Light Heavyweight Champion:
“I want to thank HBO, Golden Boy, and Star Boxing. We have been training hard and are ready for what is to come. I am mentally preparing for everything that Bernard Hopkins has for me. The date is almost here, and I am ready to put on a great show.”
“I am prepared to go 12 rounds, he is a tough guy. If I get the opportunity to take him out, I will do that. I go into every fight the same way; whether it is a legend or a nobody that is standing in front of me, they have the potential to hurt me. Each fight I push myself a little harder.
“We are always training and preparing the same like we do for all our fights-I don’t do anything different. When the call came for the title fight, I was working for the labor union, and trained for two months straight and that resulted in a win. The same thing happened when I got the call for this fight. I have been training in Long Island, so I have traveled to spar with different fighters throughout the area. I believe that I have some of the best jabs in boxing. Most of my fights end early, so I don’t get to show off my boxing capabilities. I think most people will be impressed by my boxing performance as I take on Bernard.
“To fight someone well known like Bernard is a privilege. I will be bringing my best, and will make sure that he doesn’t return. I will make sure he exits my way.”