When Bernard Hopkins suffered his now-famous debut defeat to Clinton Mitchell, his next opponent had not even been born.
Indeed Joe Smith Jr didn’t make his arrival on this planet for another eleven and a half months.
Hopkins believes that this difference in experience will play its part when the pair fight on Saturday night at The Forum in Inglewood, California, and ‘The Executioner’ has promised to “spank” the now-27 year old Smith [22(18)-1(1)]
The fight will be Hopkins’s last, but the man who turns 52 next month does not intend to go quietly, and goaded his Irish-American opponent at the pre-fight press conference last night.
The former two-weight champion explained how “I’m not gonna predict that I will end his career mentally, emotionally, physically – I’m not gonna wish the Kelly Pavlik on him – but what I’m gonna do is spank him, teach him his ABC’s, and then send him back to Long Island up the road from Philadelphia!”
“See that’s what I’m about. I’m a career-stopper to most of my opponents that talk like him,” Hopkins [55(32)-7(0)-2] said, referencing Smith’s promise that he will be the first man to stop the future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
“One day if he recovers mentally then he might have something to salvage and go forward.”
Smith is viewed as a hand-picked opponent for the crafty American, and most believe if the veteran can make it through the dangerous initial rounds with the big puncher, that he will box to a comfortable win. However Hopkins was not overly impressed with ‘The Irish Bomber’s’ shock first round stoppage of Andrzej Fonfara during the Summer, and dismissed the enormity of the win in Chicago.
“I don’t even know the guy. They’re making out like he knocked out Sergey Kovalev or Andre Ward. I’m not underestimating him – power is power. If you’ve knocked out 25 tomato cans, all of them went over, so I respect that.”
“Joe Smith is the perfect example of the common man. Common man,” said Hopkins as he turned around to point to Smith, “Special man!” before pointing himself out. “Which one you want?”
“Nobody is really paying attention to Joe. Joe won’t be special come Saturday. He will stay common.”