FORMER HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION Wladimir Klitschko should start winding down his career against lower quality opposition and go out on his own terms, says Bernard Hopkins.
Klitschko (64-5) dominated the division for close to a decade before losing his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO belts by a unanimous decision to Tyson Fury in November 2015.
The 41-year-old Ukrainian failed to reclaim two of those prizes in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium last weekend when he was knocked out by Anthony Joshua.
After the defeat, Klitschko said he was yet to make a decision on whether he would activate a rematch clause in the fight contract.
Hopkins, who retired last December aged 51, warned against taking up that option, but still urged Klitschko to focus on making a quick comeback.
Asked if he would recommend a rematch with Joshua, Hopkins told Omnisport: “No. If I was in Klitschko’s position, I would evaluate things very quickly and I would try to get my ass in there [the ring] before the year’s out.
“I wouldn’t wait another year because then other stuff starts seeping in your mind, whether you take a long vacation, whether you eat apple pie for the first or second time in your life, you wait around seven or eight months, your belly’s starting to come over the belt … and then you start missing it and you want to do one more fight and then it’s really bad because the engine was turned off and now you’ve got to turn it back on and it’s a year later.
“I don’t want to see that. You want to get right back in there, win, lose or draw, within a reasonable [number of] months after a knockout.
"Of course, you’re suspended for 90 days, I believe, depending on which state or country you live in.
“I think he should get back in there no later than the top of next year, just to say I’m going, bye bye, it’s been fun.”
Hopkins believes Klitschko still has fighting left in him and would be better served by taking on opponents of a lower grade before making his final exit from the ring.
“I think he should carry on only if it matters, but I don’t think he should carry it on past one or two fights,” said the American.
“I think that he should go in that ring to fight a B level, maybe B-plus type fighter where the threat would still be there, but not an A-plus fighter like Joshua.
“I think that if he wants to show that this is the way he wants to go out, like I wanted to do with no regrets, I think he deserves and [has] paid his dues to be able to write the script for how he wants to go out, [rather] than how he went out [against Joshua].
“I think certain athletes in any sport get a pass to go out the way they feel. That’s just my humble opinion.”