Despite an impressive effort, 51-year-old light heavyweight boxer Bernard Hopkins’ final match Saturday at The Forum indoor arena in Inglewood, California, did not end the way he had hoped it would.
Of course, when you climb into a ring to face a man just barely more than half you age, you have have set your hopes too high.
Hopkins fought long and he fought hard, holding his own just fine until the eighth round, at which point his significantly younger and still-energized opponent, Joe Smith, pummeled him with a flurry of punches that catapulted him right out of the ring and onto the ground, ending the fight.
What made it worse was the flimsy excuse Hopkins trotted out after his defeat.
“I might have got hit — next thing I know he shoved me out of the ring,” he claimed, as reported by CBS News. “I hit my head first and my ankle got hurt. Between the ankle and the back of my head hitting the ground, I feel worse now than I felt when I was 25.”
It’s pretty clear in the second video that Smith, 27, didn’t push Hopkins at all, but instead had apparently knocked him out cold — which of course is something that happens from time to time in boxing.
Here’s the thing: According to USA Today, Saturday’s devastating loss marked the only time in Hopkins’ 67-fight career that he had been felled by a knockout. Maybe that’s why he felt it necessary to fabricate a story regarding his loss — he felt embarrassed.
He need not have felt that way, though. Over the course of his amazing career, Hopkins won 55 fights, meaning that 82 percent of the time he had been the victor. Moreover, he could have retired silently; instead he chose to engage in a farewell fight.
Clearly the fight did not turn out the way Hopkins wanted, but as he himself said after his loss, “I know the fans will know I went out as a soldier, fighting the toughest, baddest opponents.”
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