Bernard Hopkins/Associated Press photo by Matt Rourke
Bernard Hopkins is the king of trying to win fights at news conferences. Even at 51, that hasn’t changed.
Hopkins and Joe Smith Jr. on Wednesday played host to a news conference at the Fabulous Forum ahead of their light heavyweight main event there Saturday night (on HBO).
This will be the final fight of Hopkins’ illustrious career, one that has spanned 28 years and included titles in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. Smith, of Long Island, N.Y., has said all along that he is honored to be involved in Hopkins’ swan song.
Smith also wants to win, and he let everyone know that as he spoke from the dais.
“I know I’m going to be in there with a legend,” said Smith, 27. “But I work very hard, I’ve put many hours in the gym and a lot of sacrifices to get to this point, to where I am today. I’m just ready to get out there and put on a great show Saturday.
“He is a legend, but when he’s in there with me Saturday night, he’s just another opponent to me and I’m looking to get him out of there and stop him, be the first person to stop him in his career.”
Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs), who will be 52 next month, wasn’t about to get that go without talking some serious trash. It included a reference to Kelly Pavlik, who Hopkins easily defeated in October 2008 at a catch-weight of 170 pounds. Pavlik was middleweight champion at the time.
Pavlik went back down to middleweight, defended his title two more times before losing it to Sergio Martinez. Pavlik, who had all kinds of personal issues, fought four more times and won all four bouts, the final one coming at the tender age of 30.
“I’m not going to wish the Kelly Pavlik on him (Smith),” said Hopkins, insinuating he ruined Pavlik’s career. “But what I’m going to do is, I’m going to spank him, teach him his ABCs and then send him back to Long Island, up the road from Philadelphia.
“And then one day, if he recovers mentally … mentally, then he might have something to salvage and go forward. See, that’s what I’m about. I’m a career-stopper to most of my opponents that talk like that.”
Interestingly, Smith (22-1, 18 KOs) had a strange look in his eyes, like he didn’t know what to make of Hopkins and his intimidation tactics.