Bernard Hopkins (-250) vs Joe Smith Jr. (+200), Draw (+2500)
The long, illustrious boxing career of Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KO) is finally coming to an end when he faces Joe Smith Jr. (22-1, 18 KO) in Inglewood, California, on December 17th.
The fight will be the 67th professional bout for the 51-year-old, whose career has spanned 28 years. To put it in perspective, Hopkins has been a professional fighter since before 27-year-old Joe Smith was even born. The former middleweight and light heavyweight champ will be looking to end his career with a win over one of the rising stars in the light heavyweight division.
But he’s got his work cut out for him. Joe Smith Jr. is coming off a huge upset victory against then-WBC International light heavyweight champion Andrzej Fonfara. Fonfara had already defended his light heavyweight title once, and was expected to make easy work of Smith. But it wasn’t the case. Smith knocked Fonfara down twice in the first round before the fight was called to a halt, winning Smith the light heavyweight title.
The odds are once again against Smith Jr., and he’ll be looking to do to Hopkins what he did to Fonfara. But B-Hop is no Fonfara. He’s one of the greatest boxers of the modern era, with an unparallelled understanding of the tactics and intricacies of the sport. His highly strategic and defensive style makes him almost impossible to knock out. (All seven of his career losses have been via decision.) Even Sergey Kovalev, one of the most reliable knockout fighters, was unable to put him away.
Smith will have to try, though. There’s no way he’ll be able to go the full 12 rounds and win on decision. He doesn’t have the experience or technical ability to out-box Hopkins. He’ll have to open himself up and go for the knockout, which is exactly the type of fight Hopkins loves. He’ll relish the chance to pick Smith apart, showcasing his technical mastery over the sport one last time.
Pick: Bernard Hopkins (-250)
Photo credit: “hopkins” by t-back CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.