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Boxing: Hopkins knocked into retirement

Bernard Hopkins (left) and Joe Smith Jr. fight during their light heavyweight boxing match Saturday in Los Angeles. (Jayne Kamin / USA Today Sports)

Bernard Hopkins experienced a first in his last fight.

In a career that spanned 67 fights, Hopkins never had been knocked out — until Saturday night against Joe Smith Jr. at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

The first seven rounds were even but then came the fateful eighth round where Smith literally knocked the 51-year-old Hopkins out of the ring and into retirement.

With Hopkins on the ropes, Smith unleashed six straight shots that sent Hopkins through the ropes and onto his head on the Forum ringside floor.

Hopkins rose to his feet, the referee gave the customary 20-count for fighters outside the ring, and then his illustrious career was over. Hopkins (55-8-2) never made it back inside the ring.

At the time the light heavyweight fight was stopped, Smith led on two of the judges’ cards, 69-64 and 67-66. Hopkins led on the third judge’s card, 67-66.

“I might have got hit. Next thing I know he shoved me out of the ring,” Hopkins told reporters after the fight. “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.”

Hopkins reiterated that he would retire.

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