The major upset of Bernard Hopkins last Saturday night by Joe Smith Jr. was enough in the mind of his promote Joe DeGuardia for him to be considered the winner of the 2016 ‘Fighter of the Year’ award over Terence Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenko. Hopkins came into the fight against Smith Jr. as a 2-1 favorite with the odds-makers, and many of the boxing fans felt that the 27-year-old Smith Jr. lacked the talent to beat the 51-year-old Hopkins.
Instead, Smith Jr. knocked Hopkins through the ropes in the 8th round to get a TKO win in their fight on HBO Boxing at the Forum in Inglewood, California. It was a good victory to cap a big year for Smith Jr., who also pulled off another big upset in knocking out the highly ranked Andrzej Fonfara in the 1st round earlier this year.
“I believe that Joe should be Fighter of the Year,” DeGuardia said to RingTV.com. “He fought three times this year and scored knockouts. He knocks out Fonfara — he was considered a top dog — and then he knocks out Bernard the way he did. To me, those are Fighter of the Year type.”
We can’t blame DeGuardia for wanting to push for his fighter Smith Jr. as the ‘Fighter of the Year’ for 2016, can we? But in terms of significance, Smith’s wins over Fonfara and Hopkins do not compare with what Vasyl Lomachenko accomplished in beating Roman “Rocky” Martinez and Nicholas Walters by knockouts in the same year. Those were wins over two very, very good fighters, and Lomachenko knocked both of them out in one-sided wins.
Beating Hopkins was a good win for Smith Jr., but let’s be honest. Hopkins is about to turn 52 in January, and he was coming off of a 2-year layoff. That takes away from Smith Jr’s win in my eyes. Smith’s win over Fonfara was a good one, but the Polish fighter is just a contender and not a champion. Fonfara has never shown the type of talent that would suggest that he’ll ever win a world title. Lomachenko’s wins were a lot more significant.
Smith Jr. made huge noise in the boxing world with his win over Hopkins Jr. last Saturday night in sending him through the ropes in the 8th round to get a knockout victory. But beating Hopkins and Fonfara are not enough for him to get the Fighter of the Year for 2016.
WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford thinks he should get the ‘Fighter of the Year’ award for his wins over John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol and Hank Lundy. I don’t think those were good enough wins. Postol is the only good fighter of that bunch, and even that victory wasn’t that big of a deal due to Postol’s lack of experience against quality fighters.