Despite the bizarre ending, boxing legend #BernardHopkins went out on his own terms Saturday night.
Hopkins hung up the gloves at the age of 51 years old, ending his illustrious career with 55 wins, several world championships, at the respect of his peers, fans and the media.
Hopkins was able to control his destiny and enjoy a farewell promotional tour leading up to his fight with Joe Smith Jr. Saturday. Hopkins was knocked out badly in the fight, but the ending doesn't take away from his legacy as a great fighter who was good enough to continue fighting until the age of 51. Saturday's knockout was the only knockout of his career.
Most fighters aren't able to leave the ring on their own terms and end up being forced out. Most stay far too long for money, or attention, or simply have no other options. Hopkins is not on that list. Let's look at Hopkins and some of the other great fighters who were able to exit on their own terms, win or lose.
10. Julio Cesar Chavez
Any guy who retires after 115 fights, certainly controlled his own destiny. The great Chavez, El Gran Campeon de Mexico, became a Mexican icon and hero, known for his spectacular fighting heart and resiliency. With his short left hook, powerful right hand and unfailing ability to come forward, Chavez was the epitome of a great boxer. He lost his final fight after breaking his hand, but retired with 107 wins, at the age of 43. Viva la Mexico!
9. Joe Calzaghe
While he did not attain the mainstream status of some of the other fighters on the list, Calzaghe retired undefeated, with a record of 46-0, as the light heavyweight champion of the world. He defeated Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. in close decision wins in the final two fights of his career. Who else can say they defeated two pound-for-pound greats, then retired. He left the game at the age of 36 years old, one of the best British fighters of all-time.
8. Thomas "Hitman" Hearns
The Motor City Cobra had dynamite in his right hand and he exploded the face of many a fighter. Tall, lean and fast, Hearns was deadly in the ring. Hearns fought the sport's best, and beat most of them. He was involved in one of the greatest fights of all-time, against Hagler, a fight he lost, but gained enormous respect in. Hearns won his final fight by technical knockout in 2005 and retired with 61 wins. He was 48 when he hung up the gloves, a legend of boxing's glory period.
7. Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Hagler didn't have a farewell media friendly tour like Hopkins. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Hagler, miffed over his decision less to Sugar Ray Leonard, a fight in which he thought he was robbed, decided to just walk away from the sport. He initially wanted a rematch with Leonard, but Leonard declined. Hagler was done with the sport, and then enjoyed a successful career in movies in Italy. He retired at the age of 32. Hagler left millions of dollars on the table by never fighting again, but it didn't matter. He walked away from the sport in control of his own destiny. He would not be forced back into the ring.
6. Ricardo López
The Mexican fighter defended his strawweight championship 21 times before retiring with a record of 51-0-1. He was also undefeated as an amateur fighter. López could have kept fighting longer than he did, but he chose to retire on top, as the greatest light flyweight champion of all time. He was only 35 years old.
5. Larry Holmes
Was he the greatest heavyweight of all time not named Muhammad Ali? Some people might say so, others would vehemently disagree, but what is undisputed is that Holmes was an incredible fighter who was unbeatable during his prime. Holmes, with his wicked left jab and powerful over-the-top right hand, began his career 48-0 and defended his heavyweight championship an astonishing 20 times. Holmes lost a controversial decision to Michael Spinks to end his run and put him one fight away from tying Rocky Marciano's unbeaten record. Although he was never the same after the first loss to Spinks, Holmes kept fighting. He was knocked out by a young Mike Tyson, but he kept chugging along, and ended his career delivering a boxing lesson to gimmick-fighter Eric "Butterbean" Esch. Holmes and retiring with 69 wins at the age of 51.
4. George Foreman
George Foreman wasn't going to let a decision loss to journeyman Jimmy Young define him. Nor did he want to leave his heavyweight championship in Zaire, after a knockout loss to Muhammad Ali. Foreman returned after a 10-year layoff and fought 28 times from 1987 to 1994, before knocking out Michael Moorer to win the heavyweight championship. He would become the oldest heavyweight champion in history at 45 years and 299 days. Foreman may have lost his final fight, but he retired at the age of 48 with an amazing record of 76-5 and sold a lot of George Foreman Grills along the way.
3. Lennox Lewis
Lewis, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, was pretty much unbeatable when he was at his best. Even though he lost twice to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, he avenged those defeats with blistering knockouts in rematches. Lewis ended his career with knockouts of Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko and retired as heavyweight champion of the world at the age of 37.
2. Bernard Hopkins
He was known as The Executioner and he destroyed many fighters who thought they were stronger, faster, younger and tougher than him. Up until his final fight, Hopkins had never really been "beat" inside the ring. Sure, he lost decisions, but he was always a threat and always competitive in portions of a fight. A master counter-puncher, Hopkins mastered the art of boxing and gave lessons most of the time he stepped inside the ring. He was only knocked out one time in his career, against Joe Smith Jr., but his skills allowed him to fight until the age of 51 years old.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
He is arguably one of the greatest boxers of all time but there's no doubt he's the greatest of this generation. Whatever you call him, he clearly does what he wants to do. Mayweather retired in 2015 with a record of 49-0, after defeating some of the sport's greats. Mayweather banked over $200 million for his fight against Manny Pacquiao and then defeated Andre Berto to end his spectacular career. Never one to be told what to do, Mayweather was the epitome of going into business for himself. Will he fight again? Only if he wants to.