Bernard Hopkins was punched out of the ring by Joe Smith Jr in the eighth round, suffering the first knockout defeat of his career.
The 51-year-old seemed to be finding a rhythm but looked noticeably slower than in previous fights, Smith caught his opponent with a barrage of big hits which ended with Hopkins being sent through the ropes to finish the fight in unusual circumstances.
Smith, defending his WBC International Light-Heavyweight Title, began the fight well and was the clear aggressor in the opening few sessions before Hopkins responded with a number of smart counter-punches.
Despite signs of success, the Philadelphia fighter was troubled by the powerful Smith who, in the eighth, landed a lethal six-punch combination that sent Hopkins through the ropes and onto the floor.
Hopkins, who landed on his head and cited an ankle injury, was unable to return to the ring after 20 seconds. The referee ruled a TKO stoppage and Smith was crowned the winner. With two big upset victories in 2016, the Long Island man will be targeting the World Champions at 175 pounds.
Bernard Hopkins draws a close to a sensational career when he fights Joe Smith Jr on Saturday 17th December at the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles, live on BoxNation.
The former Middleweight and Light-Heavyweight King bows out from a glittering 28-year, 67-fight career in this farewell showdown with 27-year-old New York puncher Smith Jr.
It is remarkable to think of Hopkins’ achievements ranging from losing his professional debut to becoming the oldest man to win a World Title at 46, breaking George Foreman’s record, before then breaking his own history not once, but twice at the age of 48 and 49 respectively.
Widely known for his strategic, defensive craftwork, ‘The Alien’ (55-7-2, 32 KOs) can more than pack a punch. His counter-punching is one of his many assets adored by millions Worldwide.
Now at 51-years-old, Hopkins is a living boxing legend and has defied ‘Father Time’. In his most recent outing two years ago he challenged Sergey Kovalev for his WBA ‘Super’, IBF and WBO belts but dropped a unanimous decision to the Russian.
Whilst the Philadelphia fighter is sure to receive most of the pre-fight coverage, his opponent Smith Jr (22-1-0, 18 KOs) is on the rise and will be looking to take another scalp in his bid for superstardom.
Sensationally knocking out Andrzej Fonfara in the first round of their recent meeting in Chicago, the man from Long Island now finds himself within touching distance at a World Title shot.
Gate crashing BHop’s farewell party would almost certainly secure Smith Jr a shot at World honours in 2017 but Hopkins will have other plans as he looks to bow out with win number 56 on his record.