Former world champion Bernard Hopkins’ long and illustrious career ended in a brutal defeat when the 51-year-old light heavyweight was knocked out of the ring in the eighth round of his final fight in Los Angeles on Saturday. A month short of his 52nd birthday, Hopkins lost by technical knockout to fellow American Joe Smith Jr at the iconic Forum when he failed to return to the ring within 20 seconds of being punched through the ropes.
He shoved me out of the ring. I believe I hit my head. My ankle (twisted) when I hit the ground.
Hopkins had not fought since a crushing loss to Russian Sergey Kovalev two years ago and his first ever defeat inside the distance looked increasingly likely as the bout progressed against a man ranked second by the World Boxing Council. Already ahead on points on two of the judges’ scorecards, Smith ended the fight when he delivered a series of devastating blows to Hopkins’ head, culminating with a left hook that sent the veteran between the ropes and onto the Forum floor. Hopkins appeared to land on his head but remained conscious and was helped to his feet but could not make his way back into the ring within the 20-second time limit. Despite the brutality of his defeat to the former construction worker from New York, Hopkins said he was still in with a chance until he was sent into the crowd.