Bernard Hopkins' legendary, 28-year career came to a thudding conclusion Saturday night, when Joe Smith Jr. punched him out of the ring and onto The Forum floor in the eighth round in a wild scene.
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.
Hopkins was reluctant to accept the outcome, initially claiming that he was shoved out of the ring. “I was throwing the right hand and a combination and then using the rope as an offensive 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.
“The reason I said I’m upset they are giving Smith the TKO is because the momentum threw the ropes,” he added. “I didn’t dive through the ropes.”
Hopkins (56-8-2) was looking to wrap his career with one last showing of defensive-minded boxing in front of an enthusiastic, star-studded crowd at the Forum. Instead, he finished in the same manner he started, with a loss.
“This is my last fight, I promised it would be and you come to that point in life where it is final and I’m happy with my retirement,” Hopkins said. “I know the fans will know I went out as a soldier, fighting the toughest, baddest opponents. I’m not saying I agree, I’m not in denial — Joe was a tough, heavy hitting fighter.”
Wearing his old Executioner shorts as a throwback to his earlier fighting days, Hopkins looked his age early as Smith (23-1, 19 KOs) was the aggressor from the start. Hopkins regained some footing in the fifth and sixth rounds but Smith gained momentum and took it with him through the eighth, when he pummeled Hopkins in a corner and sent him through the ropes.