Beibut Shumenov won’t let admiration for Bernard Hopkins stand in his way


Beibut Shumenov at the podium for a press conference on March 11, 2014, to promote his light heavyweight unification bout against Bernard Hopkins. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP-Getty Images.


Although WBA light heavyweight beltholder Beibut Shumenov calls IBF counterpart Bernard Hopkins "one of the idols that I have in boxing," the 30-year-old wouldn't be the first fighter to beat up his hero.

Heavyweight Rocky Marciano retired Joe Louis with an eighth-round knockout in 1951. Larry Holmes battered Muhammad Ali during a 10th-round stoppage in 1980, Ali's second-to-last fight.

Shumenov (14-1, 9 knockouts) insists that he won't be above putting the hurt on Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs) when he meets the 49-year-old former undisputed middleweight champion on April 19 at The D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C. The bout will be televised on Showtime.

"Bernard is an old-school fighter. He inspires me. He inspires me with how he bounces back and he continues to fight at his age and at such a high level," said Shumenov, a 2004 Olympian from Kazakhstan, now living in Las Vegas.

"He's not just an inspiration to me, he's an inspiration to many people. I can match any style, but a lot of people just underestimate me. I think so. So on April 19, I will be able to show all of my abilities. This is a great opportunity to do that."

Shumenov considers himself "an old-school type of fighter," to the point of listing those whose crafts he admires.

"Boxing is my passion. I like Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, those types of fighters," said Shumenov.

"I even used to watch Manny Pacquiao's fights with Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, and Oscar De La Hoya's with Shane Mosley. Those fights are great fights. Of course, I want to be a world champion like those fighters, and I try to take a little bit from their styles and to copy them and to develop my own style."

Shumenov ended an 18-month absence in December, scoring knockdowns in the first, second and final round of a third-round stoppage over Tamas Kovacs for the fifth defense of his belt. Hopkins was ringside for Shumenov's victory at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

In October, Hopkins unanimously decisioned Karo Murat in defense of the IBF belt he won by unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Tavoris Cloud in March to extend his own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown.

Hopkins first set the record at the age of 46 by outpointing Jean Pascal for the WBC’s title in May 2011 before losing by majority decision to Chad Dawson a year later.

"Bernard Hopkins, right now, he is the best light heavyweight champion in the world. He is one of the idols that I have in boxing," said Shumenov. "But for me, this is a great opportunity to show that I am actually the best light heavyweight champion of the world."

Shumenov won his belt with a split decision over Gabriel Campillo in 2010, avenging a majority-decision loss in their previous fight, in 2009.

Shumenov established a record for the light heavyweight division by defeating Campillo in just his 10th professional bout before making the first defense with a unanimous decision over Vyacheslav Uzelkov, who had knocked out Campillo in 2007.

Unable to secure a unification bout, Shumenov signed with advisor Al Haymon, whom he credits for rejuvenating his career.

"I tried to get fights on my own with other light heavyweight champions for several years, but we didn't get any progress. After I signed with Al Haymon, he got me what I wanted, so I'm very grateful to him," said Shumenov.

"Of course, I got an opportunity to fight on Showtime, and then I got the opportunity to fight Bernard Hopkins. My goal is to unify the world titles. My goal is to fight for all of the belts. I want to have all of the belts on."