Bernard Hopkins says not ready to hang up gloves

Reuters| Updated: Nov 12, 2014, 10:39 AM IST
Bernard Hopkins says not ready to hang up gloves

Bernard Hopkins will return to the ring despite suffering a crushing defeat over the weekend to Russian Sergey Kovalev, the 49-year-old former champion told Reuters on Tuesday.

Hopkins, who failed to win a round on any of the three judges` scorecards in the light-heavyweight title unification bout, ended speculation of his retirement by saying he will fight "one more time."

"Who will I fight? I don`t know," Hopkins said during a telephone interview from his Delaware home. "But it will be somebody I will be an underdog against because I want to be the underdog.

"If this is the last time I`m going into the ring, I will not cheat myself. It will not be a freak show. I will never shortchange myself and my dignity."

Hopkins, who defended the middleweight title a record 20 times from 1995 to 2005 and has never been knocked out, was floored Saturday in the first round by Kovalev, a fighter 18 years his junior.

But the fighter known as The Executioner was back in the gym on Monday.

"Physically, if you see me today, you`d think I didn`t have a fight (on Saturday)," he said. "But inside, trust me, my arms and the back of my head and the top of my head, oh yeah, I was in a fight. I`ve been in the hot tub for the last 48 hours."

Kovalev, who now lives in Los Angeles, retained his World Boxing Organization championship and captured Hopkins` International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association belts. He boosted his record to 26-0-1 with 23 knockouts.

"I had the most underrated chin in boxing but I think that changed Saturday," said Hopkins. "I`ve never been in this business to prove I can take a punch. That`s why I`ve been around so long.

"People said I was crazy to fight him. Whether it`s in boxing, sport or even in life, you just have to man up. And you know what I`ve been hearing? People who started off rooting for the young guy ended up rooting for the old guy."

Hopkins, who turns 50 in January and has a 55-7-2 record with 32 knockouts over his 26-year pro career, insisted he won`t "cherry pick" his final opponent.

"It will be somebody that`s a champion," he said. "It will be from a division beneath me but where they`re comfortable and I`m comfortable. It will be someone that`s dominating today.

"I`m going to do it the way I`ve done it my whole career. People respect you for fighting fights that others run away from. I want to fight the best no matter how it pans out."