Joe “The Beast” Smith Jr. became the first fighter to knock out the legend Bernard Hopkins as he knocked Hopkins completely out of the ring with a vicious four punch combination in the 8th round.
Hopkins was unable to beat the 20 count administered by referee Jack Reiss constituting a knockout win by Smith Jr. (the bout was officially declared a TKO victory). The fight was the main event on HBO Championship Boxing.
Smith Jr., stalked Hopkins from the opening bell putting pressure on Bernard and landed a telling right hand in round one that seemed to wobble Hopkins. Joe was relentless throughout the next two rounds and outworked Hopkins easily while Hopkins was limited to landing sneaky pop shots here and there.
Bernard was more competitive in the 4th round landing some nice counter punches to the ever-charging Smith Jr. and captured that round (the only round awarded to Hopkins by HBO analyst Harold Lederman and most ringside observers). Joe Smith Jr. regained control in the 5th and 6th rounds and to most viewers looked on his way to a dominating victory, as he imposed his will on the boxing legend.
Joe Smith Jr. turned up the attack in the 8th round. At 0:53 of the 8th round the career of Bernard Hopkins would come to a brutal end as Smith Jr. unleashed a vicious 4 punch combination sending Hopkins flying through the ropes and onto the floor. Hopkins who appeared dazed and hurt from the blows, was unable to beat the 20 count cementing the sensational knockout victory for Smith Jr.(The traditional 10 seconds to get to your feet after a knockdown is extended to 20 seconds for the fighter to get back into the ring after being knocked out of the ring).
Joe Smith Jr., who proudly embraced the label of a “common man” leading up to the fight improves to 23-1 (19KO’S).The fight thrilled fans in the arena, nation-wide on HBO and Joe’s fellow Local 66 Laborers Union co-workers back home. Joe retained his WBC International Light Heavyweight title in ending Hopkins illustrious career at 55-8-2 32KO’S and becomes the only person to ever stop Hopkins in his long career.
“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 every time I threw the right hand, he was throwing the left so I set up the punch. I had seen him fall, and I kept hitting him until I saw him go down and out, and that left that I landed was a hard left hook. I hit him with four or five clean shots and they were good shots on the button. I came here to do my job, and while I may have ruined his farewell party, 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.”
Bernard Hopkins said: ” I might have gotten glazed with a left hook. I knew of the twenty seconds, but couldn’t stand up on my feet. 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-Joe was a tough, heavy hitting fighter.”
Smith Jr. Promoter Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing had this to say at the fight’s conclusion “I am so happy for Joe Smith Jr. This was an emphatic victory and he has a tremendous future ahead of him. Joe is turning out to be the American dream, a humble, hard working kid who has now made a name for himself in the Light Heavyweight division with consecutive sensational knockout wins.
“This was a great victory for all of us. I think with these two back to back upset KO wins, Joe Smith Jr. should be “Fighter of the Year”. Finally, I congratulate and want to express my respect to Bernard Hopkins for a truly amazing illustrious career”.