By Paul “Paparazzi” Jones & Justin Jones: Washington, DC—IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs) and WBA/IBA Champ Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs) were in the nation’s capital this afternoon to formally announce their April 19th showdown at the DC Armory (Washington, DC). Based on their remarks made at the kick-off presser for this light heavyweight unification bout, both fighters are aware of the significance of this match-up.
At 49-years-old, an age where most late (baby) boomers are thinking more about their retirement portfolios than about trading leather with bloodthirsty opponents, the self-proclaimed “Alien” has another shot to rewrite boxing’s record books. A victory over Shumenov qualifies Hopkins as the oldest boxer in history to unify world championships.
However, knocking out the Kazakhstan native would send shock waves throughout the light heavyweight division, forcing fellow champions Adonis Stevenson (WBC; 23-1, 20 KOs) and Sergey Kovalev (WBO; 23-0-1, 21 KOs) to take notice irrespective of their cable network affiliations.
Regardless of what Bhops is calling himself these days, he understands the stakes associated with this fight. This is why the surefire Hall of Famer is not overlooking Shumenov. In fact, according to Hopkins, he is looking “through” his adversary rather than past him.
“I’m not looking past [Shumenov], I’m looking through him,” Hopkins said. “Not because I’m underestimating him [and] not because I don’t think that he’s going to put up the best fight. That he’s going to be energized and the nerves are going to be going. They’re the most dangerous guys to fight from my perspective.”
“My motivation is…I’m not done yet. So I don’t give ammunition to those that say that I should be done.”
Shumenov, 30, a 2004 Olympian who serves as his own trainer, also comprehends the implications of a victory over Hopkins. And though he respects Hopkins and has seen all of his fight tapes, Shumenov believes that he is prepared for anything that The Alien brings to the table including the occasional low blow. But don’t expect Shumenov to retaliate if he is the victim of a foul.
“I’m not going to do any dirty tactics because it’s boxing and boxing has their own rules,” said Shumenov. “I love boxing and everybody has to follow the boxing rules. That’s why I’m not going to do any kind of dirty tactics. The ref may not see that, but the world will see that. I don’t want to get any kind of bad reputation for that kind of stuff. So I’m not going to do that.”
Though Shumenov has successfully defended his WBA strap five times, his 15-fight resume is thin on quality opposition. He also lacks a career-defining fight and has fewer fights (15) than Hopkins has knockouts (32). These experience-based deficiencies do not bode well for the Las Vegas-based fighter.
Shumenov believes that knowledge is his keys to closing the experience gap. “My knowledge compensates for their experiences,” Shumenov said. “I [also] approach boxing scientifically. So I try new things. I see my improvements every week.”
In addition, Shumenov plans to use his power and drive to neutralize Bhops. But he doesn’t appear to be overly concerned about getting a knocking out.
“The problem is, [Hopkins] isn’t going to let anybody knock him out, even if he faces a heavyweight champion,” Shumenov said. “I have power in both hands, I can knock anybody out. [But] I’m planning to win every round. Twelve rounds.”
Whether Shumenov can defeat Hopkins is debatable. A more intriguing question, however, is whether Hopkins can continue to defy father time and make history once again.