In 66 amazing fights, boxing legend Bernard Hopkins had never been knocked out.
In a cruel twist of fate, the 51-year-old #BernardHopkins, was not only knocked out by Joe Smith Jr., but fell through the ropes and crash landed onto the the concrete floor of The Forum in Los Angeles.
Hopkins, known as "The Executioner" through his illustrious, 30-year career, found himself on the receiving end of a brilliant boxing execution by Smith Jr. in what has been proposed to be the final fight of his career.
The end came just 53 seconds into the 8th Round. Smith landed a flurry of punches, beginning with a solid right hand and ending with a powerful left that sealed Hopkins' fate.
Hopkins hit the ground hard and appeared to hit his head. The Philly legend had 20 seconds to get back into the ring, but he was confused and appeared to hurt his ankle when he arose and in no condition to continue.
In a post-fight interview, Hopkins was dejected, claiming that he was pushed out of the ring by a "frustrated" Smith, even though the replay showed that it was a series of punches that caused the ousting. He said his plan was to rally during the second half of the fight and use his superior boxing skills to overcome the younger fighter.
"I believe he was starting to fade out," Hopkins said.
Still, he expressed no regrets about his career.
"I went out like a soldier and I always fought the toughest and baddest fighters in the era that I boxed in," Hopkins said after the fight.
Before the technical knockout Hopkins was losing on two of the three judges' scorecards, 69-64, 67-66. He was ahead 67-66 on one judge's scorecard.
Smith controlled most of the fight, heaving big punches, many of them landing against Hopkins, who attempted counter-punch the big blows. Smith connected with several wicked body shots, slowing down the veteran early in the first round. Smith rocked Hopkins toward the end of the first round, sending Hopkins backwards.
Hopkins was about to slow Smith's momentum briefly when Smith was busted open by a head butt in the second round. But Smith regained his lead in the third round. Hopkins enjoyed his biggest success in rounds 4 and 5, landing lead right hands and left hooks.
Still, even when Hopkins landed, Smith never looked in trouble; he just continued to barrel forward, looking to land big punches.
Smith was thrilled with his victory, knowing that being the first man to knock Hopkins out is a feat that few expected.
"It feels great," Smith (23-1, 19 KOs)said. "It's the best feeling in the world to accomplish something I worked hard for and wanted to do."
The stunning knockout was reminiscent of the night when Rocky Marciano knocked Joe Louis out of the ring, also in Louis' final fight.
Hopkins falls to a record of 55-8-2 (2). Smith retained his WBC International Light Heavyweight Championship and moves to 23-1.
Hopkins began his career in 1988 and masterminded several stunning wins during his 30-year career.
Hopkins holds victories over greats such as Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones Jr. and Felix Trinidad. But he finishes his career just how he started it: with a loss. And Hopkins appears to be comfortable with this being the end.
"I'll be 52 in a few weeks," he said. "I look like I probably still can (fight). But I can't."