HBO Boxing closes out 2016 with an iconic competitor taking on a determined challenger when WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING: BERNARD HOPKINS VS. JOE SMITH, JR. AND JOSEPH DIAZ, JR. VS. HORACIO GARCIA AND OLEKSANDR USYK VS. THABISO MCHUNU is seen SATURDAY, DEC. 17 at 10:00 p.m. (live ET/tape-delayed PT) from The Forum in Inglewood, Cal., exclusively on HBO. The HBO Sports team will call all the action, which will be available in HDTV, closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired and presented in Spanish on HBO Latino.
Other HBO playdates: Dec. 18 (9:00 a.m.) and 19 (11:15 p.m.)
HBO2 playdate: Dec. 20 (12:45 a.m.)
The fight will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and affiliate portals.
For his final bout, Philadelphia’s Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs) takes on rising prospect Joseph Smith, Jr. (21-1, 18 KOs) from Long Island in a scheduled 12-round light heavyweight contest.
In a remarkable career that started behind prison walls and defied the odds, Hopkins, 51, has fought professionally as a middleweight and light heavyweight for 28 years. Winning seven titles and making a record 20 consecutive successful middleweight title defenses, he is widely considered a sure thing for the Hall of Fame. But age and a lack of ring activity are certain to be factors in Hopkins’ 23rd appearance on HBO, since he hasn’t fought since Nov. 2014.
With just one blemish on his record, Smith, 27, supplements his training by working construction on Long Island, and has compiled an outstanding 78% knockout-to-win ratio. He seeks to raise his standing in the division as he continues to pursue a championship fight.
In the middle bout, Joseph Diaz, Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs) of South El Monte, Cal. takes on Horacio Garcia (30-1-1, 22 KOs) from Guadalajara, Mexico in a scheduled ten-round featherweight contest. A 2012 U.S. Olympian, Diaz seeks to keep his perfect pro record intact and raise his national profile; Garcia is fighting in the U.S. for only the third time.
The tripleheader opens with a cruiserweight title contest between southpaw Oleksandr Usyk (10-0, 9 KOs) from Kiev, Ukraine and Thabiso Mchunu (17-2, 11 KOs) of Cato Ridge, South Africa. A 2012 Olympic gold medalist, title-holder Usyk, 29, will be making his U.S. debut with this scheduled 12-round matchup. The more-experienced Mchunu, 28, has fought three previous times in the U.S. The fight marks the first live cruiserweight battle on the network since 2003.
Friday night HBO LATINO will present a tripleheader from Fantasy Springs Casino starting at 10:00 p.m. (live ET/tape-delayed PT) headlined by a light heavyweight attraction between Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Sullivan Barrera.
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All HBO boxing events are presented in HDTV. HBO viewers must have access to the HBO HDTV channel to watch HBO programming in high definition.
The executive producer of WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING is Rick Bernstein; producer, Thomas Odelfelt; director, Johnathan Evans.
® WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING is a registered service mark of Home Box Office, Inc.
Bernard Hopkins vs Joe Smith Jr Undercard
Rounding out a stacked card featuring boxing legend Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, undefeated featherweight contender Joseph “JoJo” Diaz, Jr. and WBO Cruiserweight World Champion Oleksander Usyk, several red-hot prospects in the Golden Boy Promotions stable will look to move to the next level on December 17 at the “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, California.
Tickets for these action-packed fights are already on sale and available at Ticketmaster and the Forum Box Office.
“There is no promotional company with a deeper stable of prospects than Golden Boy Promotions, and fans are going to see a slew of them on the December 17 card,” said company CEO and Chairman Oscar De La Hoya. “I am confident that multiple future world champions are on this card; fans should come to the Fabulous Forum to see these rising stars as they continue to climb the ladder of our sport.”
Following back-to-back knockouts that earned him the WBC Latino Middleweight Title, undefeated southpaw Yamaguchi Falcao (11-0, 4 KOs)will return to the states for the first time since April, 2015 to put his title on the line against German “Zurdo” Perez (10-2-3, 3 KOs) of Los Mochis, Sinaloa in a 10-round match-up.
Staying in the middleweight division, Donegal, Ireland’s own Jason “El Animal” Quigley (11-0, 9 KOs) will continue his record of taking on tough challenges and step into the ring against the knockout artist Jorge “Destroyer” Melendez (28-7-1, 26 KOs) from Manati, Puerto Rico in a 10-round bout.
18-year-old lightweight Ryan “Kingry” Garcia (6-0, 5 KOs) will make his highly anticipated Golden Boy Promotions debut on the card against Durango, Mexico’s Antonio “Chore” Martinez (6-7, 5 KOs). In a professional career that just launched in June, the 15-time national champion has already won six fights, including five by way of knockout.
With the NABA Super Featherweight Title up for grabs, newly crowned champion Carlos “The Solution” Morales (14-1-3, 6 KOs) will look to make it 15 wins in a row after starting his career winless in four fights when he faces challenger Charles Huerta (18-4, 10 KOs) of Paramount, CA in a 10-round affair for Morales’ belt and LA bragging rights.
Back in the lightweight division, undefeated LA Fight Club favorite Ivan “Striker” Delgado (10-0-1, 3 KOs), will head southwest across the city from his adopted home at the Belasco Theater to take on Tijuana, Mexico’s Roberto Rivera (6-3, 5 KOs) in a six or eight round bout.
Staying with the lightweights, fan favorite and hard-hitting Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez (15-0, 13 KOs) from Buena Park, California puts his perfect record on the line against a soon to be announced opponent.
Opening up the evening, undefeated Featherweight Joet Gonzalez (14-0, 6 KOs) from Glendora, California continues to take on rugged competition, as he squares off against Torreon, Mexico’s Jairo Hernandez (15-10, 8 KOs) in a six or eight round battle.