Legendary boxer Bernard Hopkins will fight against contending boxer Joe Smith Jr. in his final boxing match at the Fabulous Fourm in Inglewood on Saturday, December 17. After a career that has spanned for over two decades, Hopkins plans to retire weeks before he turns 52 years old.
“I will be the matrix, I will be the executioner, I will be all the things I need to be in that square circle,” said Hopkins.
Hopkins has many achievements, which include only having seven losses and never being knocked out. Smith has only lost once and has 18 KOs to his name.
“I want to put on a performance where y’all will ask and beg me to stay, but I won’t,” Hopkins said. “For fighters to understand greatness, you must be in [the ring] with someone to push that out of you.”
Golden Boy Promotions, a company owned by renowned boxer Oscar De La Hoya, and KS Promotions are endorsing the event. Hopkins noted how planning his final match was over one year in the making. At the beginning of the year, Smith Jr. did not expect to be fighting against Hopkins in his final match.
“I was hoping for it and I was working towards it,” Smith said. “The opportunity popped up and I started preparing for it.”
Unions throughout the country support Smith Jr, including the Laborer’s Union and the Electrical Union. Hopkins noted how his east coast fan base will travel to see the match in person and watch the game on TV.
“My fan base is formally known and it should be because of the time that I put in,” Hopkins said. “One thing about longevity in boxing or things in any sport, people follow you whether you’re east coast, or you’re west coast or Midwest.”
The partnership between Golden Boy and Hopkins has spanned for 13 years. Bringing his final fight to fruition allowed Hopkins further his knowledge in the business of promoting and the process of analyzing players.
“As a promoter, you also have to be a scout also you have to be more than a promoter.” Hopkins said. “I’ve been known to be a self-promoter even though I’ve traveled through some stops where I had a promoter here and there and at the end, most of the time, that relationship went south.”
Hopkins had a history of having unfavorable relationships with promoters; at times Hopkins made less money than the promoters that worked for him. In the late 1990’s, the boxer spoke out about those practices to a task force that was investigating relationships between boxers and promoters.
Hopkins fighting and besting younger boxers is common, a perfect example being his upset victory over the then 28-year-old Felix Trinidad during the United Middleweight Titles tournament in September 2001. Hopkins was 36.
Hopkins has been known to continuously train quickly after his fights. Awards he achieved throughout his career include the 2002 World Boxing Council Boxer of the Year, the 2001 Boxing Writers Association of America, and the 2005 ESPY Boxer of the Year.
The 51 year-old boxer is the oldest champion in the history of boxing, from 1988 to 1993, Hopkins won 22 consecutive fights. He defended his middleweight title 15 straight times, breaking Carols Monzon’s record of 14 defenses.
“You can’t talk your way [to] being great,” Hopkins said. “If you do and you don’t show that you’re great, you will embarrass yourself in front of the world. I don’t like being embarrassed”