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INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) – Joe Smith Jr. stopped Bernard Hopkins 53 seconds into the eighth round of their WBC international light heavyweight title fight Saturday night.
Smith used a six-punch combination to send Hopkins through the ropes and on to the floor, effectively ending the 51-year-old’s 28-year boxing career.
Smith successfully defended his title when Hopkins was unable to return to the ring after 20 seconds. Hopkins hit his head on the way down and twisted his right ankle — he cited the ankle as the reason he couldn’t finish. A WBC official said the injuries incurred forced a TKO.
“I knew he was a true champion, and if he didn’t get injured he’d be back here,” Smith said. “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 reluctant to accept the outcome, initially claiming that he was shoved out of the ring.
“I was throwing the right hand and a combination and then using the rope as an offensive as I’m known for, and making a mess,” Hopkins said. “He got frustrated, and I might have gotten glazed with a left hook and next thing I know he was throwing me out of the ring. i didn’t dive through the ropes.”