By Jerome Souza (@Jerome510)
This Saturday is somewhat unique in boxing and has been more in common in the last few years within team sports. One of the best in the sport is announcing his retirement prior to his last performance. The sports world was able to say goodbye to future Hall of Famers Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and Kobe Bryant as they announced their final seasons with plenty of games left to be played. At 51 years young, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KO) is leaving the sport of boxing on his own terms in the year’s final installment of HBO World Championship Boxing. The full-time boxer and promoter will be accompanied in his last hurrah by the upset-of-the-year candidate from New York, Joe Smith Jr. (21-1, 18 KO). Smith Jr. was relatively unknown to casual fans before his first round stoppage of the always dangerous Andrzej Fanfare earlier this year. But the Local 66 union laborer quickly caught the attention of fans and was a suitable opponent for Hopkins’ last fight.
Instead of contemplating retirement after a loss or being forced to call it quits from those around him, Hopkins chose to ride out in the sunset regardless of this Saturday’s outcome. What can we expect? We can expect a Hopkins fight. Smith Jr. will come on strong and try to wear down Hopkins with his power, as did Sergey Kovalev. Hopkins on the other hand will use his ring IQ, defense, and every trick in the book to show those watching which fighter is the teacher and which is the student.
I believe Smith Jr. has nothing to lose going into this fight. The fight is labeled “FINAL 1” and is being showcased as a retirement bout. All eyes will be on Hopkins and not much is expected of Smith Jr., which is a great position for him to be in. With fight fans wanting to watch the ageless wonder box one last time, Smith Jr. is in position once again to pull off an upset in front of a massive television audience knowing that people will see him again once the fight is over.
In addition to the Hopkins-Smith Jr., the best Cruiserweight in the world, Oleksandr Usyk, and the 2016 WBC prospect of the year Featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr will also be featured in separate bouts on the televised tripleheader. These two undefeated fighters will continue their rise to stardom against worthy adversaries. If you’re in the Southern California area this weekend, the affordable ticket prices give more reason to attend this entertaining event. If you’re not nearby, get your televisions ready because you’ll be in for a special night.