IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KO’s) turns 49-years-old today and he faces what could be the toughest part of his career if he backs up his tough talk with action in 2014 and 2015. Hopkins will be facing WBA 175 lb. champion Beibut Shumenov in April or May in a unification match. From there, Hopkins says he wants to fight unification matches against WBO champion Sergey Kovalev and WBC champ Adonis Stevenson.
Whether Hopkins does so is the real question. He’s been talking a lot, and recently he mentioned that he saw Kovalev as an easy fight for him. If Hopkins chooses to use the network squabbles as a reason why he can’t fight Kovalev and Stevenson, it’ll look like he’s ducking those guys in the minds of many boxing fans.
Hopkins might have a tougher time than than many people expect him to just trying to get past Shumenov. That’s no cake walk for Hopkins at this point in his career. Shumenov has excellent power, and he’ll definitely get a lot of chances to touch Hopkins with his power shots. Hopkins’ once impregnable defense showed serious signs of cracking in his last fight against his mandatory challenger Karo Murat last October.
Hopkins won the fight by a 12 round unanimous decision but he was hit an awful lot by Murat. If Shumenov is able to hit Hopkins as frequently as Murat did then Hopkins will take a beating. That’s not to say that He’ll lose the fight, but it’ll be one of the more punishing ones that Hopkins will have taken in many years.
I think there’s a good chance that all talk of Hopkins facing Stevenson and Kovalv will be finished if Hopkins gets beaten up against Shumenov. Like I said, it doesn’t matter if Hopkins beats Shumenov. If Hopkins is seen getting hit a lot and punished by him, it won’t matter if he beats him. Just the fact that Hopkins had to struggle to beat Shumenov will be enough to put boxing fans off of any interest in seeing Hopkins fight Stevenson and/or Kovalev. Fans wouldn’t want to see Hopkins get finished off by those two sluggers.