In the end, there has been no professional sports career that I have enjoyed more than Bernard Hopkins’. As sports fans moving through the ages of our lives, the careers of the various stars help us mark the route. When we are children, professional athletes are adults we aspire to emulate. As young people, they are contemporaries we turn to for diversion.
And then, at a certain point, we pass into our middle years and the sports stars have suddenly become kids.
But for boxing fans of my generation, Bernard Hopkins never went away. He barely even showed signs of age. When I was in my late 30s and early 40s, still training to compete as amateur grappler, B-Hop’s continued success kept me inspired.
It was not simply that Hopkins was continuing to compete. He was insisting on competing at the highest level of the sport. He wasn’t taking fights just to get paydays. He remained hungry to prove that he was still the very best.
Hopkins’ last fight was in November 2015, a one-sided loss to Sergey Kovalev. Even then, he remained his crafty self. After a Round 1 knocked down, Hopkins went the distance with the most dangerous fighter in the sport, just weeks before his 50th birthday.
On Monday, Hopkins announced he will return for one last fight. On December 17, he will face Joe Smith at the Forum in Inglewood. The bout will take place less than a month before Hopkins turns 52.
Smith is a veteran of the New York club scene who stunned contender Andrzej Fonfara with a Round 1 KO last June. He is a dangerous puncher, but with very limited experience. His recent win puts him firmly in the light heavyweight top 10, so it’s no like Hopkins is slumming it for his last bout.
But expect the ageless Alien to put on one last boxing clinic this December.