Joe Smith Jr. Beats Bernard Hopkins in The “Final 1”
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-Joe was a tough, heavy hitting fighter.”
Entertainers and fighters came out to the “Fabulous” Forum to support Hopkins in his “Final 1” career fight including Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya, Dave Chapelle, Vitali Klitchsko, George Lopez, Wilmer Valderrama, Bruno Gunn, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, Larry Merchant, Danny Trejo, Rasheed Wallace, and Golden Boy Promotions fighters Lucas “La Maquina” Matthyssee, WBC Diamond, WBA & Ring Magazine Lightweight World Champion Jorge Linares, WBC Super Featherweight World Champion Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas, NABA Featherweight Champion Abraham “El Chamaco” Lopez, Emilio Sanchez, Zachary “Zungry” Ochoa, Genaro “El Conde” Gamez, Ivan “Striker” Delgado, Edgar Valerio, and Jonathan “Thunder” Navarro.
For the evening’s co-main event, Joseph “Jojo” Diaz, Jr. (23-0, 13 KOs) was put to the test with veteran Horacio “Violento” Garcia (30-2-1, 21 KOs). After going the distance in 10 rounds, Diaz, Jr. was handed a victory by the judges with a win by unanimous decision to retain his NABF Featherweight title.
“I knew I was facing a tough, experienced opponent, so my plan was to go in there and get him using my jabs, angles and everything I worked on in my training camp,” said Joseph Diaz, Jr. “I came in and got what I wanted and I’m very happy with the outcome.”
“It was a power versus speed fight,” said Horacio Garcia. “For every power punch I would throw, he would throw two. I agree with the judge’s decision, and we’ll hit the gym to make the adjustments.”
The evening’s televised opening bout live on HBO World Championship Boxing, Oleksandr Usyk (11-0, 9 KOs) went toe to toe with Thabiso Mchunu (17-3, 11 KOs), with Usyk dominating the fight and pushing his opponent to go the distance. Ultimately, Usyk wore Mchunu down and ended the bout by technical knockout in the ninth round at the 1:53 mark to retain his WBO Cruiserweight title.
“I’m very happy with my performance, he was awkward but I’m glad I was able to win by knockout,” said Oleksander Usyk. “Once I was able to find my range and throw combinations my power was too much for him.”
“He got the better of me, and he used it against me,” said Thabiso Mchunu. “All I can say now is that we have to go back to square one.”
Brazil’s hottest export, Yamaguchi Falcao (12-0, 5 KOs) faced German Perez (10-3-3, 3 KOs) in a scheduled 10 round super middleweight bout that only made it into the first 27 seconds of the first round. It only took mere seconds for Falcao to send Perez to the ropes, causing him to fall and injure his leg, maintaining Falcao’s undefeated status.
“I wasn’t expecting getting the knock out so early,” said Yamaguchi Falcao. “I kept my distance and just looked for the perfect opportunity to land an overhead punch, and when I did – I felt that I hurt him and unleashed on him. I can’t wait to start 2017 rejuvenated and at a top notch level.”
Getting down to business, Jason “El Animal” Quigley (12-0, 10 KOs) scored a technical knockout over Jorge Melendez (28-8-1) at the 2:24 minute mark in the first of their 10-scheduled round middleweight bout.
“Me and Manny Robles were ready to go all ten rounds if necessary,” said Jason Quigley. “He wanted the knock out more than I did – he was coming forward and risking heavy punches to his own detriment. We are 110 percent ready for anything that is coming in the future.”
Ryan “Kingry” Garcia (7-0, 6 KOs) entered the ring hungry throwing a series of vicious punches to opponent Durango, Mexico’s Antonio Martinez (6-8, 5 KOs) cutting up his face. By the second round, the referee ended the fight at the two-minute mark, awarding the victory to Garcia.
“I was a little nervous since this was my first timer as a Golden Boy Fighter,” said Ryan Garcia. “I set him up perfectly for me to utilize my straight jab, and found a way to maneuver his awkward style. I’m going to look back at the tape and just keep on improving and taking off my Golden Boy career.”
Carlos “The Solution” Morales (15-1-3, 6 KOs) remains NABA Super Featherweight champion after defeating tough opponent Charles Huerta (18-5, 10 KOs) of Paramount, CA via split decision, with scores of 95-94, 96-93 and 93-96. The fight proved to be a difficult one as Morales endured cuts to the face in round 7, and was knocked down in round 8-however, he remained resilient with counterpunches and blocks to Huerta to ensure the victory.
“I’m glad I get to take the belt back home,” said Carlos Morales. “He was on his game, and it was a tough fight. I was caught completely off guard by his left hook, and I think that slowed me down, and the cut on my nose was a result of four hard rounds of boxing.”
Fan favorite from Buena Park, Calif., Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez (16-0, 14 KOs) went straight to work and hurt his opponent Jonathan Perez (36-16, 28 KOs) of Miami, FL with a right uppercut in the first round. By the second round, he had knocked out Perez in the third round at the 26 second mark with a dominant liver shot.
The pride of Los Angeles, Ivan “Striker” Delgado (11-0-1, 4 KOs) took down Tijuana, Mexico’s Roberto Rivera (6-4, 5 KOs) with a devastating body shot in the sixth round of their lightweight bout at the 1:18 mark.
Glendora, CA’s Joet Gonzalez (15-0, 7 KOs) remained undefeated after taking down Jairo Hernandez (15-11, 8 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico via fourth round knockout at the 2:40 second mark in this scheduled 6/8-round featherweight fight.
“I’m glad we got the stoppage in the fourth round,” said Joet Gonzalez. “I was expecting him to come forward more, and I think he was a bit cautious of my power blows. Overall I’m satisfied with my performance tonight.”
Hopkins vs. Smith, Jr. was a 12-round WBC International Light Heavyweight Championship presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Star Boxing. Diaz, Jr. vs. Garcia is a 10-round NABF featherweight title match presented by Golden Boy Promotions. Usyk vs. Mchunu is a 12-round WBO Cruiserweight World Title battle presented by K2 Promotions in association with Main Events. The event is sponsored by “Cerveza Tecate, BORN BOLD” and Casa Mexico Tequila. The event was televised live on Saturday, December 17, 2016 from Inglewood, California’s “Fabulous” Forum on HBO’s flagship series beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.