The fight that opened all doors

Don’t miss the fight between Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. , Saturdays at 10 p.m., on RDS2 and RDS Direct.

MONTREAL – Joe Smith Jr was an American boxer who knew thousands of others when he found himself in the same ring as legendary Bernard Hopkins in December 2016.

At the time, Hopkins was on the verge of having one last fight that would allow him to retire in a big way. Twelve months ago, he had lost by a unanimous decision of the judges against Sergey Kovalev and did not look good. Honestly, he didn’t even try to win.

So Hopkins and his team are looking for a boxer with a good track record and focused on attacking. Smith rose to prominence in the summer of 2016 by defeating Andre Fonvara after knocking him out twice in just 2:32. Plus it was sloppy at 33 to 1!

Although he was 51 years old at the time, the cunning Hopkins shouldn’t have had much trouble taking on the 27-year-old Smith. Although his father noticed that Fonvara exposed his chin after throwing a punch, many believe he was simply lucky.

Smith is a local star in the New York and Long Island areas, but he still has to get up every morning to go to work. A 90-minute flight and he’s gaining more and more weight. Especially when he leaves work to go straight to the gym for a workout.

During a recent press conference to promote the fight, Hopkins did not fail to emphasize how “common” Smith was and how “special” he was. The former hero addresses the audience by asking them who they would choose. “Public” or “Private”?

Smith could easily have gotten into a verbal sparring match with Hopkins. But he just stares at him, stoic. He knew very well that many of them had tried before him, but none of them had succeeded in destabilizing him. He will be content to do what he knows best: work.

On fight night, Smith does what we’ve seen over and over since then: he lunges at his opponent and throws punches relentlessly. She’s not always elegant, but she still manages to touch Hopkins. The more rounds, the more Smith seemed to be in complete control.

At nine, the stage overturned. Smith Hopkins is knocked out of the ring with a series of punches. The legend finds himself above heels, struggling to get up. Hopkins argued that Smith pushed him, but that is clearly not the case. Smith simply eliminated it. I destroyed it.

“How many men have done this to her?” Senior Chief Executive Officer Todd Dubuffe asked recently during an interview with the famous columnist. Hey ho! Sports Kevin Ewell.

The answer is simple: absolutely no one. Before this fight, no boxer could stop Hopkins before the limit. Not Roy Jones Jr. Not Jermaine Taylor. Not Joe Calzaghi. Not even Sergei Kovalev, who at that time crushed all his opponents on his way.

“I always knew I could do it,” Smith said in many interviews over the years. It was the fighting that opened all the doors for me. »

However, in the days following that fight, Smith returned to his blue-collar job. Not because he was bored of it buddies From Local 66, but because he didn’t really have a choice.

“I worked out for a few weeks and eventually realized I had some big fights ahead,” Smith recalls in an interview. the sun. The guys were all wondering what I was doing there after beating a legend. You need to earn some money! »

Smith, a father since he was 18, doesn’t really have a right to any rest. He came close to facing Adonis Stevenson after defeating Hopkins, but the fight never materialized. In the media, the error is attributed to its promoter Joe DeGuardia.

Smith would eventually face Sullivan Parreira, but the sky fell on him in the second round when the Cuban broke his cheek. After defeating Melvin Russell, he found himself against WBA champion Dmitri Bevol. But defeat is final.

But the “common man” does not despair. He went on to beat Jesse Hart and Elder Alvarez and became the WBO Champion after defeating Maxim Vlasov in April 2021. He quit his blue-collar job and owns his trim company. He even found time to study financial security. Having said that, he himself remained the humble and calm man.

“I can picture myself cheating and make some money with it,” Smith said. It’s crazy anyway. Today, you have to be on social media and have followers. It requires a lot of effort. It’s a sport that ultimately pays little, unless you’re a world champion. Maybe I should start over and play baseball! »



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