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.
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