Former Two-Division World Champion and Future Hall of FamerBernard “The Executioner” Hopkins(55-7-2, 32 KOs) and Light Heavyweight Contender Joe Smith Jr. (22-1, 18 KOs) hosted a Los Angeles press conference Monday to discuss their 12-round battle set for December 17 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. and to be televised live on HBO.
Below is what the fighters, their trainers, managers and promoter had to say at today’s press conference:
Photo: Tom Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Joe Smith Jr: “I’m so glad I was chosen to fight Bernard Hopkins in his final fight on December 17th at the Forum. I’m going to train very hard for this fight and take full advantage of it. I’m looking forward to putting on a great show for everyone.”
Bernard Hopkins: “This is history, we have been here many times where history has been made. This is obviously different than everything I have ever done, because it is the Final 1. To be able to have the Final 1 in LA, where the city of stars are trying to be stars, however you cut it, it couldn’t have been better with the history placed in the DNA that the Forum has produced.
“It is fitting that the end of a twenty-nine year career, since 1988 is in a historic place at the Forum in Inglewood, CA. This is something that came as an opportunity to be here. I couldn’t tell you that it would be in this arena-it just happened, and here I am against an incredible opponent.
“I don’t want anyone to say Joe Smith Jr. gave me anything-give me an opportunity and give me a door and I’ll open it myself. I don’t’ have to convince anyone of anything. This is not emotional. What I am going to do is show you why I have been named three different names in boxing from “The Executioner” to “B-Hop” to “The Alien” they all exist in me.
“On December 17th you will see “The Executioner,” it will all come full circle. This press conference is just a warm up. Win, lose or draw, there is no excuse-Final 1.”
Photo: Tom Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Oscar de la Hoya: “As you know, we are calling this the “Final 1,” and Bernard has expressed this is the final one. We are really excited to be putting together this card. We want to thank HBO for putting this card together. December 17th will be historical. I want to say coming out party, but it will be the last hoorah, as a champion goes out in his terms, in his way. Only legends can do that and superstars who transcend the sport.
“What excited me about this fight is that Bernard is not fighting someone who is a walk in the park, he is fighting a difficult fight, and this gentleman has every opportunity in the book to win and win a world title. This is Hopkins, this is who Hopkins chose. Joe Smith Jr. has an amazing record and an outstanding knockout percentage that is unheard of in his division.
“Hopkins will be an athlete that will transcend the sport, not just for what he has accomplished in the ring, but for outside of it, and that is huge. I am very excited and happy that this fight will be taking place in an arena where I began my professional career. It is an honor for me and thank you for giving Los Angeles and Angelenos an opportunity to watch this fight.
Joe DeGuardia “It is certainly great to be here in LA at the Forum where so much history has been made. This fight was really easy to male, and that is a testament to Bernard Hopkins, because most fighters would shy away from a puncher like Joe Smith Jr. It is an honor and I thank Bernard and Oscar for taking this fight.”
Tony Walker, Director of HBO Sports: “December 17th is our last broadcast of the year, and it is very special because it is the last time we will see Bernard Hopkins in the ring. This fight will be Bernard’s twenty-third fight on HBO, tying him with Lennox Lewis in appearances. Hopkins will join all of the boxing greats you can name. His traits of tenacity and endurance have been with him and we are going to celebrate Bernard with this Final 1 fight.”
Jose “Pepe” Sulaiman, Jr., CEO of the WBC’s Los Angeles Office: “With greatness comes great responsibility, Bernard Hopkins has taken this to very high levels. He is an ambassador for peace, and is an example in and outside the ring. He has a wonderful relationship with the WBC, and was a very great friend to my father.
“At the WBC, we are very proud to be a part of this fight. This is not another fight, this is not a farewell fight, this a real fight. We are very enthusiastic to be a part of this. Great champions fight great fights and great fighters. There will be two belts. One for the winner and one to celebrate a great champion.”
Andy Foster, Executive Director of the California State Athletic Commission: “One thing I can tell you, the California Commission does not care who wins, we want both fighters to go home safe. We look forward to a safe and successful event.”