Bernard Hopkins To Retire After Fight Against Joe Smith

BERNARD HOPKINS will bring the curtain down on his glittering 28-year career against Joe Smith in December – a month before his 52nd birthday.

The multiple-time world champion announced he will hang up his gloves after taking on his fellow American in his 65th and final fight at the Los Angeles Forum on December 17.

Bernard Hopkins
Bernard Hopkins will retire from boxing after taking on Joe Smith in December

The Executioner has won titles at middleweight and light-heavyweight and has won 55 of his bouts, with 32 knockouts.

Incredibly, he made his pro debut in 1988 – a loss to Clinton Mitchell – 11 months before 27-year-old Smith was even born.

Hopkins said: “A lot of people will focus on my age, the history of my run in the sport, the titles, etc… but I’m focused on one thing – knocking Joe Smith out.”

Hopkins will fight one month before his 52nd birthday in last-ever bout
Bernard Hopkins
Hopkins lost his light-heavyweight world titles when he was defeated on points by Russian Sergey Kovalev on points in his last fight in November 2014

Hopkins won his first world title in 1995, aged 30, and defended the middleweight crown a record 20 times before suffering back-to-back losses to Jermain Taylor in 2005.

He has fought some of the biggest names of his career, including Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad and Joe Calzaghe.

His last fight was a points defeat to Russian Sergey Kovalev in Novermber 2014 where he lost his WBA (Super) and IBF light heavyweight titles.

 

Joe Smith
Joe Smith said he is ‘excited’ to take on Hopkins in legend’s final fight
Bernard Hopkins
Hopkins has won world titles at middleweight and light-heavyweight
Bernard Hopkins
Hopkins has won 55 of his 64 fights, including 32 knockouts

Boxing legend-turned promoter De La Hoya – who was stopped by Hopkins in 2004 – added: “We want to make this Bernard Hopkins’ retirement party.

“It will be a whole week of festivities and celebration of his great career. We’re going to put something together that will complement his farewell fight.

“Joe Smith is a big knockout puncher, and he is coming off a great win over Fonfara, who had knocked out (Julio Cesar) Chavez Jr.

Bernard Hopkins

“He will bring the fight to Hopkins. He is aggressive. It’s a legitimate fight.”

New Yorker Smith has lost only one fight since his 2009 debut, compiling a 22-1 record with 18 knockouts.

He said: “I’m very excited about fighting on HBO.

“I know now all my hard work and dedication has paid off. I am looking forward to retiring a boxing legend.”

Top 10 Boxers Under 25

Below is The Times’ top 10 list of boxers who are 25 years old or younger:

1. Naoya Inoue; Japan; super-flyweight; 11-0, 9 KOs;

Already a two-division champ at 23, Inoue is viewed as “a killer” by some of boxing’s smartest observers. He’s made three successful WBO title defenses and was mentioned by HBO’s Max Kellerman as the next best foe for new WBC champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.

Next fight: He just fought Sept. 4, claiming a 10th-round knockout in Japan, so there’s some rest and negotiation to come.

2. Oscar Valdez; Lake Elsinore; featherweight; 20-0, 18 KOs;

The 25-year-old former Olympian for Mexico won the WBO featherweight belt in July with a second-round technical knockout of Argentina’s Matias Rueda, a brief showcase of the onslaught of punches and fearless approach Valdez offers.

Next fight: Makes his first title defense Nov. 5 on the Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas undercard against top-ranked contender Hiroshige Osawa of Japan.

3. Murat Gassiev; Russia; cruiserweight; 23-0, 17 KOs;

Abel Sanchez, who also trains unbeaten middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, refers to the 22-year-old Gassiev as the “cruiserweight GGG.” Gassiev showed what Sanchez means with his knockout-of-the-year effort against Jordan Shimmell on May 17 in Minnesota. And he projects to fight as a heavyweight at 6 feet 3 ½ inches.

Next fight: Returns to his home country Dec. 3 to meet two-belt champion Denis Lebedev, who’s trained by Freddie Roach.

4. Gilberto Ramirez; Mexico; super-middleweight; 34-0, 24 KOs;

Nicknamed “Zurdo,” the Carson-trained Ramirez, 25, suffered a torn hand tendon that scrapped his scheduled first WBO super-middleweight title defense in July. He defeated German veteran Arthur Abraham to win the belt in April and he’s shown a willingness to fight Golovkin. Throw in movie-star looks, and his star potential is high.

Next fight: To be determined, as he heals. He has a doctor’s appointment this week and could be placed on a December card.

5. Robert Easter; Akron, Ohio; lightweight; 18-0, 14 KOs;

Won the International Boxing Federation lightweight title Sept. 9 by getting off the canvas to rock Ghana’s then-unbeaten Richard Commey in the 12th round en route to a split-decision triumph. At 25, he needs to avoid the pitfalls experienced by his friend from the Midwest, Adrien Broner.

Next fight: IBF junior-lightweight champion Jose Pedraza has expressed interest in fighting Easter.

6. Joseph Diaz Jr.; South El Monte; featherweight; 22-0, 13 KOs;

The 23-year-old’s precise punching and impressive movement has lifted the 2012 U.S. Olympian to No. 3 in the WBC ratings and his ninth-round stoppage of Andrew Cancio on the Alvarez undercard last weekend elevates his notoriety.

Next fight: Diaz is in contention to challenge WBC champion Gary Russell Jr. if Diaz’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya and Russell’s manager Al Haymon can work together in spite of active litigation.

7. Felix Verdejo; Puerto Rico; lightweight; 22-0, 15 KOs;

Some boxing savants are not so high on Verdejo’s skills, but the 23-year-old has already made multiple appearances on HBO and it gives him a leg up on other prospects. Also, he was impressive in his last bout in June at Madison Square Garden.

Next fight: Because of an August motorcycle crash, he’s sidelined for the remainder of the year.

8. Erickson Lubin; Orlando, Fla.; super-welterweight; 16-0, 11 KOs;

He is considered neck-and-neck with Spence in internal discussions about who ranks as the best prospect in Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions stable. The 20-year-old southpaw last fought in July, winning every round after scoring knockouts in four of five prior bouts.

Next fight: Uncertain, but may return to the ring in December.

9. Jessie Magdaleno; Las Vegas; super-bantamweight; 23-0, 17 KOs;

The 24-year-old has earned his way for a chance at the top and has the Top Rank machine behind him to ensure strong placement in major fight cards.

Next fight: On Nov. 5, he’ll meet Nonito Donaire for the WBO super-bantamweight title on the Pacquiao-Vargas undercard.

10. Ivan Baranchyk; Russia; super-lightweight; 11-0, 10 KOs;

Nicknamed “The Beast,” Baranchyk isn’t well known yet but promoter Lou DiBella vows the 23-year-old will be a phenom as he follows a deliberate career path. Baranchyk is already a fan favorite at Buffalo Run Casino in Oklahoma, where he’s posted consecutive  knockouts.

Next fight: On Friday he returns to the casino to meet Zhimin Wang on Showtime’s “ShoBox” series.