The Forum, Inglewood, California - 27-year-old Joe Smith Jr. (23-1, 19KOs) knocked out former two division world champion Bernard Hopkins (55-8-2-1, 32KOs), almost 52-years-old and coming off a two-year layoff, in the eight round of action. This was the final fight of Hopkins' career. Photos by Ed Mulholland/HBO.
The official ruling was that Hopkins sustained an injury when he flew out of the ring, from legal punches, and he was unable to continue. Hopkins complained that Smith pushed him out of the ring, but several replays showed that Smith never pushed him. This was the first knockout loss of Hopkins' career.
Smith started the first by applying pressure in the first and letting his hands go to make Hopkins work hard from the very beginning. A good combination appeared to wobble Hopkins for a moment, but Smith was unable to follow-up with a lot of punches as Hopkins was able to used defense to get out of trouble.
Smith was targeting the body in the second round and his punches were doing damage. Smith was cut above the left eye from Hopkins head clash. Hopkins landed a good right hand counter, but not much of anything else. Smith using his jab in the third, but more as a range finder to land punches. Hopkins did well to nullify the offense of Smith for the first two rounds and landing his own counters. Smith started to let his hands go in the final twenty seconds.
The fourth saw Hopkins doing a lot of moving and not that much punching. Smith was going after him, but made the mistake of leaving himself open to often as Hopkins was connecting with quick punches. In the fifth, Hopkins continued to land some very quick punches as Smith was walking in. Smith was targeting the body as Hopkins head was a little harder to find. In the final few seconds Smith was able to land a very good right that forced Hopkins to hold on.
Smith was really on the mark in the sixth, letting his hands go and working Hopkins over in the sixth against the ropes. Smith was taking the fight to Hopkins, who wasn't doing much in return. The seventh had Smith coming forward, pushing the pace and letting his hands go as Hopkins was still not doing much work in return. Smith was digging down to the body and doing more damage.
Smith landed a huge combination in the eight round that sent Hopkins flying right through the ropes and out of the ring. Hopkins was down on the floor and seemed to be out on his feet. He unable to get back in the ring and the fight was stopped.