Boxing’s oldest ever world champion Bernard Hopkins believes he will once again make history as he looks to unify the light-heavyweight division this weekend.
Hopkins has already made a profound statement in the world of boxing, reigning as one of the world’s top middleweights for over a decade, before moving up the weight classes to finally become the fight games oldest champion.
Having initially dethroned George Foreman of that title back in 2011, when he captured the WBC and IBO light-heavyweight belts at 46 against Jean Pascal, the Philadelphian recently broke his own record when he beat Tavoris Cloud at 48 to win the IBF crown last year.
Now though, the boxing icon faces another momentous task as he looks to unify the 175-pound division when he faces off against WBA Super champion Beibut Shumenov this Saturday, live on BoxNation, with Hopkins urging fans to enjoy him while he’s around.
“To be 49-years-old, approaching 50, and knocking on the door of being a senior citizen – it’s a profound statement of my dedication,” said Hopkins “It’s sweeter now to be here with everybody. Everything I do is history. If you had one more chance to see something that you loved before you never see it again – here I am. You’ll have a chance to see history. You can tell your grandkids about what you saw,” he said.
The skilled veteran is determined to remain at the top and fighting the best, despite the challenges a battle with Shumenov presents.
“Name another athlete in this country that is doing it at this age and winning, not just competing, but fighting the top fighters in the world. This guy is no run-of-the-mill guy, he’s a threat,” Hopkins said.
“I’m not fighting a cream puff; this isn’t a bum of the month club. I’m fighting real dudes. These guys are hardcore, hungry and top contenders.
“Shumenov wants to make a name, like everyone else. What better place to make a name than against me?” he said.
The light-heavyweight division is packed with some of boxing’s leading names including knockout artists Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev.
Both hold the other recognised world titles in the division, with the prospect of capturing all the belts and becoming only the second fighter since Evander Holyfield to unify two separate divisions with every championship an alluring one for the ageless Hopkins.
“It [prospect of unifying the division], gets me a lot more energised than my last two fights but those last two fights played a role to get energised,” said Hopkins. “To me, this isn’t the climax, this is the pre-climax, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s where I need to be and where I had to go through to get here in the last year or two, to be patient, to fight my mandatory and to show people
“I wanted it to be Kovalev but they chose to fight [Nathan] Cleverly, smart move, good management. Now, we’re here, and I’m looking to show the world that I might be the second or the first boxer in any division that became undisputed in two weight classes in modern times,” he said.
“I love history and I love trying to break records that have been set for multiple years because I believe I have a history of doing that, and this is energising too,” Hopkins added.
The American’s disciplined lifestyle is the driving force behind his success that is seeing him not only remain competitive in his twilight years but still held in high regard as one of boxing’s truly elite fighters.
“Taking the test without studying is like taking a fight without being in the gym. The gym is studying. The test is April 19. You can put the cart in front of the horse if you’re a fool and I think people would agree I’m no fool.
“I’m a guy that loves the craft and respects the craft. You can love something, but it doesn’t mean you respect it. Love is the emotional part; respect is the dedication and hard work. That attitude and that demeanour is always going to be there. That’s just who I am,” said Hopkins.
Hopkins vs. Shumenov is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky 437/490HD & Virgin 546) this Saturday night. Visit www.boxnation.com to subscribe.