The Return of The Executioner: Bernard Hopkins Farewell Fight
By: Matthew N. Becher
Sixteen Years after his conquering knockout win against Felix Trinidad in Madison Square Garden, and over one year removed from his last fight and loss to Sergey Kovalev, the great Bernard Hopkins will enter the ring for one last time as a prize fighter.
On December 17th, live on HBO from the famous Forum in Inglewood, California, the ageless one, 51 year old Hopkins will take on Joe Smith Jr. (22-1 18KO) in a light heavyweight contest to close out the future hall of famers career.
Hopkins last fight was against current unified light heavyweight champion, Sergey Kovalev. It was the most one sided loss of Hopkins career. He was 49 at the time, and though he lost, he did something that almost nobody would do, and that is challenge and actually fight one of the most feared men in the world. Hopkins was no match for the much younger man, but he took the chance, did not get hurt and may have proved that if he was younger may have been able to thwart the current pound for pound lister.
Bernard Hopkins career started in 1988, with a loss to Clinton Mitchell, that is one year before Joe Smith Jr. was even born. Hopkins wouldn’t regain himself until 2 years later when he would continue is hall of fame career. Hopkins would eventually become the IBF Middleweight champion of the world in 1994 and regain his title for the next 11 years. In that time frame he would unify the division, while defeating the likes of Glen Johnson, Keith Holmes, Felix Trinidad, William Joppy and Oscar De La Hoya.
In 2006, Hopkins would jump up in weight class, to the Light Heavyweight division where he would win his first of many titles in the division, by outpointing Antonio Tarver. He would go on to unify belts as a Light Heavyweight at the age of 48, becoming the oldest man to ever do so. He would defeat Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik, Roy Jones Jr. Jean Pascal, Tavoris Cloud and Beibut Shumenov in the 175lb class. All as a man over 40 years old.
Joe Smith Jr. is a relatively unknown fighter from Long Island. He works his days as a union construction worker, and trains as a professional boxer at night. He recently made headline news with his stunning knockout of Andrzej Fonfara and will look to be the man to retire Hopkins in his final match.
Hopkins is a sure fire bet for a spot in the boxing hall of fame 5 years after his final appearance. He was already 1/5th of the way there, but always said he would fight one last time, into his 50s. His ability has a defensive fighters has never seemed to diminish, and most people don’t worry about him getting hurt. He is for one, not doing this for the money, which he does not need. This is more about a man proving that age is nothing but a number, and going out for one last time to show us, that he was cut from another cloth, one that many of the younger fighters should look to emulate.