Bernard Hopkins ended his 28-year career in the worst way possible this weekend, when he was literally knocked out of the ring.
The legendary boxing, who is just shy of his 52nd birthday, fought Joe Smith Jr. at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. on Saturday night (Dec. 17) for the WBC light heavyweight title.
In the eighth round, Smith caught Hopkins along the ropes and delivered a six-punch combination, finished with a left hand that caught Hopkins as he was bending over… and he fell between the ropes and onto the arena floor.
The referee administered a 20-count (the boxing rule when a fighter is ejected from the ring), but Hopkins could not get back into the ring in time and the fight was called 53 seconds and declared a knockout.
“I was throwing the right hand and a combination and then using the rope as I’m known for, and making a mess,” Hopkins said. “He got frustrated, and I might have gotten glazed with a left hook and next thing I know he was throwing me out of the ring.
“I injured myself and hit my head first and hurt my ankle. I knew of the 20 seconds, but couldn’t stand up on my feet because my ankle was injured. I said I could walk but I couldn’t box. I had a choice to make, but I guess the referee made it for me. I know if I hadn’t made a mess and gotten knocked out of the ring, I would’ve come back like I’m known for and would’ve had my chin.”
It was a disappointing end to Hopkins’ legendary boxing career, in which he was the undisputed middleweight champion, made a division-record 20 title defenses, and was a three-time light heavyweight titleholder, while setting a number of age-related records, such as becoming the oldest fighter to win a world title.
Hopkins’ earned a $800,000 purse in the fight, while Smith took a $140,000 purse.
In his retirement, Hopkins says he’ll continued to promote in his role as a partner in Golden Boy Promotions, while enjoying his family.