Bernard Hopkins knocked out of ring and beaten by Joe Smith Jr in final fight
Bernard Hopkins (55-8-2, 32 KOs) suffered a devastating defeat in his final fight when opponent Joe Smith Jr (23-1, 19 KOs) knocked the 51-year-old veteran out of the ring in the eighth round on Saturday night at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
A flurry of punches sent Hopkins through the ropes as his legendary 28-year career came to a thudding end.
Smith went on the attack from the start but the aging Hopkins still had enough skill to avoid taking any big punches in the early rounds.
The 27-year-old Smith continued to march forward firing punches, while Hopkins would throw a shot and then lunge to tie him up.
But in the eighth, Smith caught Hopkins along the ropes and landed the fight-ending combination. Hopkins fell between the ropes and crashed to the arena floor.
Referee Jack Reiss administered a 20-count, as is the boxing rule when a fighter is knocked out of the ring. When Hopkins could not get back into the ring in time, Reiss waved off the fight at 0 :53 of the round.
The American had never been beaten inside the distance before this defeat by countryman Smith.
Hopkins said: "I injured myself and hit my head first and hurt my ankle. I knew of the 20 seconds, but couldn't stand up on my feet because my ankle was injured. I said I could walk but I couldn't box. I had a choice to make, but I guess the referee made it for me. I know if I hadn't made a mess and gotten knocked out of the ring, I would've come back like I'm known for and would've had my chin.
"This is my last fight, I promised it would be and you come to that point in life where it is final and I'm happy with my retirement.
"Win, lose or draw, or controversy, that's it.
"I have no regrets."
Smith retained his WBC International light heavyweight title, which he won when he scored a first-round knockout over Andrzej Fonfara in June.
"I knew he was a true champion, and if he didn't get injured, he'd be back here," said Smith.
"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.
"I came here to do my job. This is my coming out party, too. I had to finish him. It was either my career was going to end and his was going to end, but I needed mine to continue."
Hopkins was the undisputed middleweight champion, making a division-record 20 title defences and he was a three-time light heavyweight world champion, also becoming the oldest fighter to win a world title, first at age 46 and then again at 48.
On the same card, WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (11-0, 10 KOs) stopped South African challenger Thabiso Mchunu (17-3, 11 KOs) in the ninth round.
Ukraine's Usyk dropped Mchunu with a left uppercut in the sixth round, again in the ninth with a flurry of punches before scoring the final knockdown later in the round with a left hook.