It was only four months ago Joe Smith Jr. was considered a mere club fighter who was out of his league taking on name fighters, and now he is matched up with a legend in the final bout of his career.
The announcement was made Monday that Bernard Hopkins’ last fight was to take place on Dec. 17.
Smith managed to get himself in the position to be standing opposite Hopkins in the ring on that night, and he is unsurprisingly excited at the opportunity.
“I’m very excited about fighting on HBO. I know now all my hard work and dedication has paid off. I am looking forward to retiring a boxing legend,” Smith said, via ESPN.
Smith holds a professional record of 22-1 with 18 knockouts, but it was not until his last fight that he was on anybody’s radar.
He started his pro career in 2009 and spent his whole career fighting locally in the northeast region; mostly in New York.
Again, Smith was considered just a club fighter knocking out below-par opposition, and was the heavy underdog when he got himself matched up against top light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara for a June bout.
Smith showed his power was not simply dangerous to the club fighters of the northeast, and ended up finishing Fonfara in Round 1 by TKO, against all odds.
“We’ve worked together in the past with Golden Boy and HBO, and we were able to put this together nice and smoothly,” Joe DeGuardia, Smith’s promoter, said. “It’s a great opportunity for Joe to follow up his win against Fonfara by fighting a legend like Bernard Hopkins. Maybe he’ll be able to do what nobody else has ever done to Bernard — knock him out. With a puncher like Joe, you never know.”