Oscar De La Hoya believes friend, former opponent and colleague Bernard Hopkins would continue fighting into the next decade if the feat was at all feasibly possible.
At 51 years of age, Hopkins dons his gloves for what is proposed to be the last time this December when returning as ‘The Executioner’ against big-punching Joe Smith Jr. in California.
Hopkins will attempt to avoid being stopped for the 65th time in his long career, dating back to 1988 when the Philadelphia native lost his debut to Clinton Mitchell via a four-round majority decision.
Ahead of the event at the ‘Fabulous’ Forum, De La Hoya had plenty of praise for Hopkins, the oldest world champion of all time, who is set to bow out of boxing less than one month away from his 52nd birthday.
“What excited me about this fight is that Bernard is not fighting someone who is a walk in the park, he is fighting a difficult fight, and this gentleman (Smith Jr.) has every opportunity in the book to win and win a world title,” said De La Hoya.
“This is Hopkins, this is who Hopkins chose. Joe Smith Jr. has an amazing record and an outstanding knockout percentage that is unheard of in his division.”
On what Hopkins has achieved in the sport, De La Hoya added: “Hopkins will be an athlete that will transcend the sport, not just for what he has accomplished in the ring, but for outside of it, and that is huge.
“What makes Bernard Hopkins is that he doesn’t stop, he keeps going and surprises people. He would continue until he was 60 if he could, that’s what a legend is, he takes care of himself and keeps going,” he added.
Should Hopkins record a 56th career victory against Smith, it’s hard to see ‘B-Hop’ hanging up his gloves as a final world title shot would be in the offing. The opportunity to extend his record by over two years may be too much of a carrot for Hopkins to pass up, although Smith Jr. needs to be manoeuvred before any possible chance at a recognised belt.
Hopkins’ ‘Final One’ could then become ‘Another One’ in 2017.