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Hopkins knocked out of ring, into retirement by hard-hitting smith

LOS ANGELES — The punches Bernard Hopkins had ducked throughout his career and for a good portion of Saturday night finally did him in at age 51, closing his career in his farewell bout.

Joe Smith Jr., throwing a heavy six-punch combination in a neutral corner, hurt Hopkins with a hard right, then used a hard left to send him crashing backward out of the ring and onto the concrete floor, on his head. Hopkins had 20 seconds to climb back into the ring after spilling under the second rope, but he injured his right ankle on the fall and was unable. Referee Jack Reiss waved the bout over, awarding Smith a technical-knockout victory 53 seconds into the eighth round at the Forum.

It was Hopkins' first knockout defeat, and replays refuted his claim he had been "thrown" out of the ring by Smith. "(Hopkins) got hit with a legal punch, went out of the ring and was injured. It's over," Reiss said.

Indeed it is for Hopkins (55-8-2), who once reigned with 20 consecutive middleweight title victories, posted legacy triumphs over Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya, and defended his former light-heavyweight title at age 49.

At the time of the TKO, Smith (23-1, 19 knockouts) — who has designs on Adonis Stevenson's World Boxing Council light-heavyweight belt — was leading on two scorecards, 69-64 and 67-66, and Hopkins was ahead on the other, 67-66.

"I had seen him fall, and I kept hitting him until I saw him go out, and I landed that left hook until he went out," Smith, 27, said. "I knew he had time to (climb back in), but I hit him with four or five clean shots, and they were good shots on the button."

Hopkins repeated after the fight that it was his last.

"I promised it would be, and you come to that point in life where it is final, and I'm happy with my life in retirement. I know the fans will know I went out as a soldier, fighting the toughest, baddest opponents," he said.

ET CETERA

soccer: Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick Sunday as European champion Real Madrid claimed its second Club World Cup title by beating Japanese side Kashima Antlers 4-2 after extra time in Yokohama, Japan. … Lionel Messi scored once and mesmerized with his dribbling skills to set up two other goals in Barcelona's 4-1 Spanish league win against Espanyol in the city derby. Barcelona, which also got two goals from Luis Suarez, is three points behind leader Real Madrid ahead of the winter break. … Douglas Costa's second-half goal was enough for Bayern Munich to return to the top of the Bundesliga with a labored 1-0 win at bottom side Darmstadt. … Raheem Sterling capped a rousing second-half comeback by host Manchester City with the winning goal as Arsenal squandered a lead for the second time in five days to lose 2-1 in the English Premier League. City moved within seven points of first-place Chelsea. Arsenal dropped nine points off the leader. … Rejuvenated striker Mario Balotelli took his league tally to eight goals in eight games as French leader Nice beat struggling visiting Dijon 2-1 to move four points ahead of Monaco and seven clear of defending champion Paris Saint-Germain.

tennis: Andy Murray was voted British Broadcasting Co. Sports Personality of the Year for a record third time after winning the Wimbledon and Olympic singles titles in 2016 and finishing the season as the world's top-ranked player. Murray won the domestic award in 2013 and '15, too. Two-time British Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee was second in the voting.

Times wires

Sports in brief 12/18/16 [Last modified: Sunday, December 18, 2016 8:42pm]
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