De la Hoya hails Hopkins as 'the Executioner' prepares for final fight


Oscar de la Hoya has lauded Bernard Hopkins as a "master of psychosocial warfare" on the eve of the celebrated veteran's final professional fight.

Hopkins, a dominant former champion of the middleweight division who also went on to claim world title belts at light-heavyweight, will bring an end to his career after facing Joe Smith Jr in Los Angeles on Saturday, a month before his 52nd birthday.

Known as 'The Executioner' and 'The Alien', Hopkins is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of the modern era and was a world champion as recently as 2014, at the age of 49.

"We won't see a fighter like Bernard any time soon," De la Hoya, Hopkins' promoter, told BBC World Service.

"He's dedicated his whole life to the sport, that's why he's been able to last this long. The longevity has been incredible.

"He's also a master of psychosocial warfare, a master at getting under your skin.

"Bernard Hopkins is a genius. Not only does he beat you inside the ring but he beats you even before you step inside of the ring."

Having been beaten on points in his last outing, a light-heavyweight unification bout against Sergey Kovalev in November 2014, Hopkins is determined to bow out on a high against Smith Jr.

"I want to give a performance where you beg me to stay, and it's a challenge that Joe Smith will have to take on," said the American.

"The sweet science is something that I've always been addicted to. My fight will be like watching the last game of Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant."