BERNARD HOPKINS intends to end his glittering career on a memorable high as he prepares to bow out from the sport after his 12 round light-heavyweight contest against Joe Smith Jnr this weekend.
Having boxed professionally since 1988, winning world titles at middleweight and light-heavyweight and defying father time over and over, the 51-year-old is finally ready to call it a day.
He hasn’t fought since his punishing points loss to Sergey Kovalev in 2014, but Hopkins believes he will achieve one final victory this weekend.
“I want the book to be written good,” he said. “The last thing you remember about a good book is not the beginning, it’s the ending. I look at this as the final icing on the cake or that exclamation point. This is it. You know this is history.
In his youth, Hopkins spent several years in prison for a number of offences and, upon his release in 1988, vowed to commit to boxing. His longevity is down to the Spartan lifestyle he has stuck to ever since.
He believes that period of his life was the toughest and that making it through proved he is a champion before he ever won a world title.
“I achieved my first goal of success in the first part of my life. That was rougher than boxing. If you know anything about Bernard Hopkins’ history, if you go into details about the inner city Philadelphia guy, who was in the penitentiary from age 17 to 25, and survived, you’d realize I became champion a long time ago.
“We as humans put limitations on ourselves. When all is said and done, I don’t want to regret what I didn’t do.”
In June, Smith produced one of the knockouts of the year when he stunned Andrzej Fonfara inside a round. The heavy-handed 27-year-old was a surprise choice by Hopkins given the obvious danger he poses and while the New Yorker is excited by the opportunity, he will not let respect get in the way of his goals.
“To take on a legend like Bernard is an opportunity I would have never expected,” he said.
“That said, come fight night, that won’t matter because it’ll just be me and him in the ring. My team and I have been training to take on any of the styles Bernard may bring. I’m excited for the night to come, and I’m ready to put on a great show.”