Years ago, Bernard Hopkins’ former trainer Naazim Richardson told me that Hopkins had done everything in the ring except lose badly. I remembered that quote two years ago when Hopkins was dominated but survived to a decision loss against Sergey Kovalev. I figured that would be the “bad” career loss. Unfortunately for Hopkins, he tempted fate tonight by returning from a 25 month layoff to face power-puncher Joe Smith Jr. At 51 years old, Hopkins finally got his wake-up call from Father Time after being blasted out of the ring by a Smith Jr. left hook to suffer the first knockout of his career.
Yes, you read that right. Bernard Hopkins, after three decades in boxing and nearly 70 fights, has finally suffered a KO defeat.
Hopkins is a notorious slow-starter, but tonight was different. His movements were stiff. His body, while still in shape, was softer and less like a formidable boxer. In round one, the bigger Smith Jr. hurt Hopkins with a looping right and forced the future Hall of Famer to hold. Smith, while crude, remained the aggressor and took the second on my card with some wincing body shots.
Hopkins gained a rhythm in the third and fourth by baiting Smith into right hands. Going into the eighth, I had Smith holding a narrow 67-66 lead, but looking like the sturdier fighter. Hopkins went to the ropes and got caught with a haymaker right. Hopkins sagged over the middle rope and received two left hooks that sent him toppling head-first to the floor. Although he got to his feet after the 10 count, Hopkins was clearly disoriented and couldn’t even make it to the apron in the 20 seconds alloted for a ring floor knockdown.
Hopkins was still in shock for his post-fight interview. Despite claiming that he was pushed out the ring, the man stood by his word that this was his last fight. We can only hope he keeps his word.
— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) December 18, 2016