WASHINGTON, DC–Bernard Hopkins beat Beibut Shumenov on Saturday–and Father Time. The 49-year-old even threw in a knockdown as if to say he can still do it all. In the process, Hopkins unified the IBF and WBC light heavyweight belts on one titlist and remained the oldest champion in boxing history.
“He has an awkward style,” B-Hop conceded of Shumenov. “I’ve been around 27 years. I’ve seen everything.”
What he saw in the first two rounds was an old-man’s pace that strangely favored the young man. After the slow start, Hopkins put on a boxing clinic for much of the rest of the fight. He landed one of his best punches that staggered his younger opponent in the fifth round. Elusive as ever, the Alien slipped punches when he wasn’t effectively countering them. After tagging Shumenov in the sixth, Hopkins followed it up by taunting him. Shumenov’s feigned bolo-punch showed up early; Hopkings’ wagging tongue show up often. The chess-match of a fight often featured uncomfortable stare-downs with little in the way of footwork.
After several uneventful rounds that left a few fleeing the arena, Hopkins scored a shocking knockdown in the eleventh that sent the DC crowd wild. Clearly, the grizzled veteran sought a knockout victory in the twelfth by unloading hard rights and combinations. Shumenov landed in spots but struggled throughout the fight to mount a sustained offense. Bernard Hopkins will have that effect on a man.
The judges, to the surprise of the Hopkins-heavy DC Armory, issued a split verdict. Two judges saw it 116-111 for the Philadelphian and one judge found it 114-113 for the Kazakhstan import. Breitbart Sports scored the bout from ringside at 117-110 for Hopkins.
“I’m special,” Hopkins responded to Jim Grey wondering how he does it. “I don’t have to explain special. There is no definition for special. Special speaks for itself.” After providing a boxing lesson by demonstration to a youngster, he issued a verbal one to other up-and-coming fighters. “Look at the artwork,” he advised young fighters. “Boxing is a science. If you don’t have to get hit, don’t. You don’t want anyone else counting your money.”
More so than money, the man who began his career more than a quarter-century ago wants to unify the light heavyweight belts before he enters his third quarter century. Hopkins explained: “I want to be the undisputed light heavyweight champion of the world before fifty.”