The fairy-tail ending didn’t come for the great Bernard Hopkins last night, as his “Final 1” against the much younger Joe Smith Junior saw the amazing 51 year old punched out of the ring in the 8th-round and TKO’d to defeat. Hopkins cried foul afterwards, saying Smith pushed him out of the ring, but replays show Hopkins was punched out.
It’s a shame Hopkins, 52 next month, wasn’t able to go out a winner, while it’s also a shame Hopkins was unable to accept the loss for what it was – a loss. Hopkins suggested the result should have been a no-contest, and while he also said last night’s bout will indeed be his last one as advertised, there is always a chance Hopkins will change his mind in the coming days, weeks or months.
In truth, we don’t want to see a rematch. Hopkins, finally, has been beaten by Father Time. The comprehensive defeat he suffered at the hands of Sergey Kovalev was tough to watch, the final round especially, and Hopkins didn’t look at all good last night against Smith. But of course, the man is 51, what should we expect!
It’s rare for the great fighters to exit boxing, the most unforgiving of sports, as a winner. Ali went out a loser, so too did the two Sugar Rays, and Tyson, and Foreman, and Joe Louis and the list goes on. There are exceptions to the rule, such as Rocky Marciano and probably Floyd Mayweather, but Hopkins is unable to break the rules any longer.
Last night’s fight and it’s unexpected ending will not hurt Hopkins’ legacy, in fact years from now the average fan will hardly even remember it (do fans remember Ali’s last fight against Berbick?).
Hopkins has his place in history. Let’s just hope he keeps his promise and does not fight again – in a rematch with Smith or against anyone else.
“The Executioner” goes out with an incredible 55-8-2(32) record. His last truly great win came back in May of 2011 when Hopkins beat Jean Pascal to make history. Hopkins’ last good performance came back in April of 2014 when he schooled Beibut Shumenov.