Beibut Shumenov rejects Flores complaints, touts Leonard kudos
Beibut Shumenov outpointed fellow cruiserweight B.J Flores by scores of 116-112 on all three scorecards in late July. Looking back on the fight, the former WBA light heavyweight champion was pleased with his performance.
“My coach, Ismael Salas, is a genius,” Shumenov proudly told RingTV.com. “We worked on a game plan that was successful. I’m blessed to have him as my head trainer. We worked hard since January for this fight. We shared our knowledge along with my two assistant coaches, Jeff Grmoja and Rodney Crisler, and we became one team. This is a process and I’m still learning.”
The “Premier Boxing Champions” bout was just the second time Shumenov has fought at cruiserweight since moving up from 175 pounds, where he held the WBA crown for over four years.
He had struggled mightily to trim as much as 50 pounds off his frame to make the light heavyweight limit, so when Shumenov lost to Bernard Hopkins in a unification last spring he elected to migrate to the talented cruiserweight division. After his maiden voyage at the new weight last December the formerly self-trained 31-year-old hired Salas.
“After the Hopkins fight, my father and brother told me I should stop boxing if I was going to get hit so often,” he said. “Ismael has taught me how to position myself, using different angles and movement. I’ve become a more all-around boxer than I was in the past.”
Shumenov (16-2, 10 knockouts) scoffed at the notion that he ran from Flores, dismissing it as sour grapes.
“Running is when somebody tries to escape in order to defend himself without throwing any punches. I was using my footwork to get into the right position and right angles to throw my punches. I was landing my punches and he was missing,” explained Shumenov. “There’s a big difference between running and using lateral movement like I did. He saw that he was getting out-schooled. He got frustrated and was just looking for one big shot. I expected from his amateur background, as a national champion, that he would have good skills but he didn’t know what to do.
“After the fight, I was so honored when I heard the words of Sugar Ray Leonard on my performance. When someone mentioned running, Sugar Ray articulately replied in reference to me, ‘That’s boxing, sweet science.‘ My opponent’s television colleague, Sugar Ray Leonard (Flores does commentary for PBC on NBC), said that I ‘showed ring generalship, using the ring. He knows where he is, switching orthodox, southpaw, taking his time, jabbing. He’s doing everything.’ Later he said, “(Look at) his eyes; he’s prepared before it happens.’ That meant so much to me hearing that from a legend like Sugar Ray Leonard!
“In regards to what my opponent said after the fight, he didn’t handle the loss with much class and came across as unprofessional. He was disrespectful to the three respected Nevada officials, in addition to his fellow commentators, who all had me winning the fight.”
With the win in the record books Shumenov is looking to further challenge himself by meeting Denis Lebedev for the WBA title.
“I will be speaking about that possible opportunity with my manager, Al Haymon,” he said. “Lebedev is the main target and, if I pass that test, I want to fight all the best fighters in the cruiserweight division.”
Lebedev is scheduled to fight in Russia on Nov. 4. Although that appears ample time to make the Shumenov bout, it seems more likely that they would face each other when it is mandated in early 2016. It is possible that the fight would go to purse bids, which would be interesting because both men are backed by arguably the deepest pockets in boxing; Shumenov by Haymon while Lebedev is promoted by billionaire Andrey Rybinski of World of Boxing.
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