Light heavyweight contender, Joe Smith, is riding high in his career. Smith, 27, is coming off of a shocking first round knockout win over highly ranked former title challenger Andrzej Fonfara. Smith is following up that fight by taking on living legend, the 51 year old Bernard Hopkins, who has defied his age and looks to end his career with a win. The fight is set for December 17th, and while most will have Smith as a underdog yet again, he has already proven he can beat the odds.
In my interview with Joe Smith and his trainer Jerry Capobianco, I discuss with them the upcoming challenge and how they feel about facing a legend like Bernard Hopkins. Jerry breaks down how he sees Joe doing with someone as experienced as Hopkins and what he feels Joe’s biggest advantage is. Joe Smith talks about possibly facing the Ward-Kovalev winner and other champions in the weight class. Additionally, both Jerry and Joe give their prediction for the fight with Bernard Hopkins. Here is what Joe Smith and Jerry Capobianco had to say.
Robert Brown: When did you first get the phone call about possibly fighting Bernard Hopkins?
Jerry Capobianco: It was last week, they called and said, “Would you be interested?” I didn’t hesitate and Joe didn’t hesitate. It was perfect. We were sitting on pins and needles wondering if it was going to happen or not, and it happened.
Robert Brown: The majority of the crowd will be supporting Hopkins because of his legend status. Are you guys daunted by that at all?
Jerry Capobianco: No because when Joe fought Fonfara, it was in his home town in Chicago. The only people who were for us were the people who came with us. I’m sure it’s going to be on a bigger scale, but the whole ten thousand people were for Fonfara and I think this was a good experience for him to step up for something like this. I think once the bell rings, all of that goes out of Joe’s head. Even with Fonfara, he was totally calm and nothing bothered him.
Robert Brown: Do you expect Bernard’s experience to be a problem for Joe at all?
Jerry Capobianco: No I don’t think so, I really don’t. As long as he’s well prepared with his training, which he is and we’re on our way. I’m totally confident that he’s going to be fine. I’m actually glad because it seems like they’re underestimating us a little bit, that’s good.
Robert Brown: What do you feel will be Joe’s strengths against Bernard Hopkins? What do you feel are some of Bernard’s weaknesses that you can exploit?
Jerry Capobianco: I think Joe’s constant pressure is going to get to him sooner or later. The things that are good about him are that we know he’s been twelve rounds a bunch of times and I think he’s going to try to get Joe into the later rounds but Joe has gone ten, he’s not like Kovalev who only went eight rounds. Joe went ten rounds with the tough Will Rosinksy and Joe could have gone four more rounds after.
Robert Brown: Do you think you can knock Bernard out or are you expecting to go the full twelve?
Jerry Capobianco: We train to go fifteen rounds but we hope for the best and expect the worst, that’s how we train. When Joe fought Will Rosinsky, everyone said he was going to take him into deep waters, and my answer to that was, “What’s he going to look like taking ten rounds of punishment from Joe?” It looked like he was in a car accident.
Robert Brown: Assuming you get past Hopkins, will you try to face the winner of the Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev fight?
Joe Smith: Yeah I would love that opportunity if it came my way. I would also like to fight Adonis Stevenson or anybody for the title.
Robert Brown: What is your prediction for the fight with Bernard Hopkins?
Jerry Capobianco: I think Joe’s fights are a little easier to predict, there’s more things against Bernard than Joe’s power. Hopkins’ age is against him, his sixty four fights have to catch up to him, as well as the two year layoff. People may look at it and say, “It’s Bernard Hopkins, he may win,” but if you really sit down and think about it, it’s real hard for me to think that Joe’s not going to come out on top in this fight. I know him and I know his power.
Joe Smith: I’m expecting the best of Bernard Hopkins, so I’m going to be at my best.
Robert Brown: Are you expecting to fight fire with fire if Bernard starts using his old tactics?
Jerry Capobianco: I tell Joe, “If he hits you, hit him back.”
Joe Smith: We’ll be ready and prepared for everything.
Jerry Capobianco: Joe is not a dirty fighter and he doesn’t look to be dirty but I know Bernard does.