Bernard Hopkins is out of this world : Weekend Review
Bernard Hopkins: The problem with assessing Hopkins’ performances these days is repetition: another fight, another historic achievement. Beibut Shumenov was the perfect opponent for Hopkins on Saturday in Washington, D.C., somewhat crude, inexperienced and not particularly quick-handed. The Kazakhstani is a solid, physically strong fighter, though. And he’s young (30). That continues to be the amazing aspect of the Alien’s never-ending odyssey. Hopkins is less than nine months from his 50th birthday yet had his way with the holder of a major light heavyweight belt, one who learned the hard way that age doesn’t hinder the victor as it does mortal men. The scorecards say Hopkins won a split decision but we know better: He won at least eight of the 12 rounds and added a knockdown in the 11th for good measure. Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 knockouts) is now 7-1-1 (with one no-contest) in his last 10 fights, all against world class competition and all after he turned 43. He also now holds two major titles (IBF and WBA), giving him 10 belts during a 19-year period. And he has his sights set on two more, those which belong to RING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson (assuming he gets past Andrzej Fonfara on May 24). I don’t like that matchup for Hopkins, who I believe gives up too much in terms of physical tools. That was the case when he fought Chad Dawson. However, I would never, ever put anything past this marvel.
Beibut Shumenov: Hopkins and his handlers knew exactly what Shumenov (14-2, 9 KOs) was going into the fight on Saturday: a pretty good, tough fighter who has a lot to learn. That’s why Hopkins targeted him as an opponent. Hopkins did to Shumenov what he does to most opponents: reduce his punch output and connection rate as a result of clever lateral movement and defensive skills honed over so many years. Shumenov landed 19.5 of 59.6 punches per round in his previous five fights, according to CompuBox; only 10.3 of 50.7 on Saturday. The dramatic difference – particularly in the connect rate (32.7 to 20.3 percent) – speaks both to Hopkins’ ability and Shumenov’s inexperience. He had only 15 professional fights going into Saturday. And Shumenov couldn’t avoid the punches of Hopkins, who connected on 186 of 383 total shots (a stunning 48.6 percent). Bottom line: Shumenov had no idea how to cope. The one most obvious lesson he learned was that he wasn’t as advanced as he probably thought he was. He needs to put the revealing loss behind him, hire a full-time trainer and get to work on polishing his skills in the gym. He isn’t a great fighter, but he’s better — potentially much better – than he looked against Hopkins.
Shawn Porter: It’s time to take the IBF welterweight titleholder very seriously. Porter (24-0-1, 15 KOs) followed his impressive title-winning decision victory over Devon Alexander in December by destroying still-capable veteran Paulie Malignaggi on the Hopkins-Shumenov card, scoring a vicious knockout 1:14 into the fourth round. Porter has a potent combination of ability, quickness and ferocity that can overwhelm opponents and thrill fans. It wasn’t easy watching the popular Malignaggi get knocked out so brutally but, from a more objective perspective, Porter’s performance was awesome. The one-time amateur star and former sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao could end up becoming a better version of Ruslan Provodnikov, another fierce warrior who is winning fans every time he fights but might lack Porter’s speed. At only 26, Porter’s best almost certainly lies ahead. So might Floyd Mayweather Jr. I won’t pick anyone to beat the No. 1 fighter in the world, at least not yet. I will say two things about Porter, though: He clearly has become a legitimate potential opponent for Mayweather based on his last two performances. And his fast-paced, swarming style might just give “Money” as much trouble as any welterweight in the world.
Add judge Gustavo Padilla to the list of blind referees. The Panamanian turned a one-sided victory by Hopkins into a split decision by scoring the fight 114-113 for Shumenov, meaning he gave the Kazahkstani seven of the 12 rounds. The only edge Shumenov had was that he threw more punches than Hopkins. Padilla evidently forgot one thing: The punches have to actually land to score. Disgraceful. … Don’t feel too sorry for Malignaggi. The Magic Man, 33, has a bright and long future as one of the best television analysts in the business. And he has had a good boxing career, one in which he won major titles in two divisions. He has long been one of the better technicians on the planet and undoubtedly would’ve accomplished much more if he had more punching power. … The Peter Quillin–Lukas Konecny fight on the Hopkins-Shumenov card was a snoozer, with Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs) winning almost every round against the overmatched Czech (50-5, 23 KOs). I believe Quillin has special ability; it’s time for him to prove it against a top-tier opponent. … Shannon Briggs (53-6-1, 47 KOs) on Saturday won his second fight in eight days, needing only 27 seconds to knock out someone named Francisco Mireles (17-9, 5 KOs) in Carlton, Minn. That followed a first-round KO of another unknown, Juan Cruz Moroyoqui, the previous Friday. Briggs, 42, called out Wladimir Klitschko after the latest victory. … Scott Quigg (28-0-2, 21 KOs) of the U.K. scored his second consecutive second-round knockout since his draw with Yoandris Salinas, stopping Tshifhiwa Munyai (24-3-1, 12 KOs) on Saturday in Manchester.