Joe Smith, Jr. (23-1, 19 KOs) retained his WBC International Light Heavyweight Title with a technical knockout victory after sending Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (55-8-2, 32 KOs) through the ropes in the eighth round.
Hopkins was unable to get back into the ring after sustaining an injury to his ankle, and the fight was stopped at 53 seconds into round eight.
“It feels great, it’s the best feeling in the world to accomplish something I set out for and wanted to do,” said Joe Smith, Jr.
“I had seen him every time I threw the right hand, he was throwing the left. I had seen him fall, and I kept hitting him until I saw him go out, and I landed that left hook until he went out. I knew he had time to go out, but I hit him with four or five clean shots and they were good shots on the button. I knew he was a true champion, and if he didn’t get injured he’d be back here. I came here to do my job, and this is my coming out party too. I had to finish him, it was either my career was going to end and his was going to end, but I needed mine to continue. I’m going to get back in the gym and train hard for my next opponent. I’m up for anything. I have lots of respect for Bernard. He is a true champion. Lots of people love Bernard and still will because he’s a true champion.”
“I was throwing the right hand and a combination and then using the rope as an offensive as I’m known for, and making a mess,” said Bernard Hopkins.
“He got frustrated, and I might have gotten glazed with a left hook and next thing I know he was throwing me out of the ring. I injured myself and hit my head first and hurt my ankle. I knew of the twenty seconds, but couldn’t stand up on my feet because my ankle was injured, I said I could walk but I couldn’t box. I had a choice to make, but I guess the referee made it for me. I know if I hadn’t made a mess and gotten knocked out of the ring, I would’ve come back like I’m known for and would’ve had my chin. The reason I said I’m upset they are giving Smith the TKO is because the momentum threw the ropes, I didn’t dive through the ropes. This is my last fight, I promised it would be and you come to that point in life where it is final and I’m happy with my retirement. I know the fans will know I went out as a solider, fighting the toughest, baddest opponents. I’m not saying I agree, I’m not in denial as Joe was a tough, heavy hitting fighter.”