According to veteran trainer Naazim Richardson, he warned former world champion Bernard Hopkins about the possibility of suffering a vicious knockout loss.
After Hopkins suffered a one-sided twelve round decision loss to Sergey Kovalev in their 2014 unification, Richardson had advised Hopkins to walk away from the sport.
Hopkins, who was nearly 52-years-old, returned after more than two years of inactivity to face dangerous light heavyweight puncher Joe Smith last December.
During the eight round of that fight, Smith put together a barrage of hard punches as Hopkins was pressed against the ropes - and the former unified middleweight and light heavyweight champion went flying through the ropes and landed hard on the concrete floor.
He was visibly hurt and unable to beat the count of twenty, with Smith being awarded a knockout victory. It was the first stoppage loss of Hopkins' Hall of Fame career.
For that particular fight, Hopkins parted ways with Richardson and hired John David Jackson.
"I don’t know what took place in the camp. With an older fighter, the camp becomes more important than pretty much everything else. I don’t know what happened in the gym, but I’ve heard rumors. It’s just a loss in a fight and he can learn and move on, or he can just move on. I said to Bernard years ago, 'You’ve done everything in the sport except lose badly. Son, leave before you’ve done everything in the sport.' Now he’s done everything in the sport," Richardson told On The Ropes Boxing Radio.
Richardson is still upset over the statements Hopkins made with respect to their split. He has no problem with Hopkins not using him for that particular fight, because Richardson was not favor of seeing him face Smith. But Richardson does have an issue with Hopkins making it appear that some physical ailment was the cause of their breakup.
"My thing is, small stuff and petty stuff I don’t bring into play because I think there’s too much of that in the media. I’ve always been a man of dealing with the things you have to deal with, man to man, I don’t play out in the media. I was uncomfortable when he made statements saying, 'Hey, Naazim has some things going on, you have to ask him why he’s not here,' when that wasn’t the case," Richardson said.
"That was an attempt to take money out of my pocket. Other fighters might have called me for work but they might have thought I was sick or something of that nature. I thought that was wrong, but nothing I wouldn’t get past. My thing was, you need everybody in the same page, 'Come on we’re going to beat Joe Smith.' You don’t need to have any doubts and it’s better to have people around you that are going to go on and not say anything about it.
"If he doesn’t feel that I agree, then yeah he should do it without me and I can live with that, there’s nothing wrong with it."