Boxing: The Executioner ready to end career

Bernard Hopkins, 51, wants to retire a boxing legend. His swansong in December is against fellow American Joe Smith, 27.
Bernard Hopkins, 51, wants to retire a boxing legend. His swansong in December is against fellow American Joe Smith, 27.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES • Bernard Hopkins spent 41/2 years in jail for armed robbery and after his release, he revived his aggression and channelled it to the boxing ring.

Little did he know that when he started his career, he would become one of the most respected boxers in history.

Now, the former world champion plans to call time on his 28-year boxing career in December when he takes on fellow American Joe Smith in his farewell bout, it was announced on Monday.

Hopkins, 51, a multiple world champion at middleweight and light-heavyweight, will climb into the ring for his 65th and final fight at the Forum in Los Angeles on Dec 17.

The bout, which will headline a HBO-televised card, will see Hopkins, nicknamed "The Executioner", attempt to improve his record from its current 55-7-2, with 32 knockouts, against Smith.

"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 said of his opponent, who was born in 1989 - roughly three months after his professional debut.

Smith, 27, 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."

Oscar de la Hoya, a former boxer and chief executive of Hopkins' promotional firm Golden Boy Promotions, had no concerns about Hopkins fighting just a month before he turns 52.

"Bernard takes care of himself. He is the best example of a fighter who has taken care of himself. He eats, sleeps and breathes boxing. The way he takes care of himself, watches what he puts in his body, he is the perfect example of what every fighter should be," de la Hoya said. "Every fighter should look up to him if they want to have a long, prosperous career and I believe he will put on a masterful performance for everyone to witness."

Hopkins fought some of the biggest names of his generation during his remarkable career, including bouts against de la Hoya, Felix Trinidad and Joe Cazalghe.

He has not fought since a defeat on points by Russia's Sergey Kovalev in November 2014, when the World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organisation lightheavyweight titles were on the line.

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


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2016, with the headline 'The Executioner ready to end career'. Print Edition | Subscribe