Bernard Hopkins pursued his boxing career on his own terms, but he ultimately left the ring against his will.
Joe Smith Jr. knocked Hopkins out of the ring Saturday night in Los Angeles in the 51-year-old boxing legend’s last professional fight.
Smith, 27, landed a flurry of punches in the eighth round before sending Hopkins through the ropes and onto the arena floor. Hopkins, who injured his ankle in the fall and could not continue because of it, lost via TKO.
Despite what video shows, Hopkins protested the outcome, claiming Smith had pushed him out of the ring.
“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 after the fight, per ESPN. “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.”
Hopkins’ 28-year professional career ends with a record of 55-8-2, along with 32 knockouts and two no-contests. The former middleweight champion made a record 20 title defenses in the division. He also set records as the oldest fighter to win a world championship, doing so at ages 46 and 48. The International Boxing Hall of Fame certainly will admit him into its ranks in the near future.
However, Hopkins didn’t seem concerned about his legacy in the immediate aftermath of his loss to Smith.
“Things unfortunately happen,” Hopkins said. “I don’t want the fight to end the way it did. I’d rather get beat or a win where it’s clear to everybody. But I’ll say it one last time. I’m really serious about this: Win, lose or draw — trust me, if it had been the other way around — win, lose or draw, or controversy, that’s it.
“I have no regrets.”
Nor should he have any.
Thumbnail photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports Images