Watching Bernard Hopkins lately makes you want to sing old Outkast songs: “Outta this world...are you alien?”
What else do you call a man pushing 50, who is not only competing at a high level in the sport, but holding a legitimate world championship?
On Saturday, Hopkins will put his IBF light heavyweight championship on the line in a unification bout with WBA champion Beibut Shumenov.
It’s the main event of an exciting Showtime card that also features WBO middleweight champion “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin and newly-crowned IBF titleholder Shawn “Showtime” Porter taking on Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi.
Here’s how you can catch the action:
When: Saturday, April 19 at 9:30 p.m.
Where: DC Armory in Washington, D.C,
The Book on Hopkins
The Alien’s legacy is a snowball of adamantium. It’s indestructible; the longer it rolls, the stronger it gets.
No loss Hopkins can or will face from here on out will change the fact that he’s one of the greatest of all time. Does he happen to fight in one of the weakest weight classes in the sport? Sure, he does. But that only makes what he’s doing slightly less impressive.
Six of Hopkins' last seven opponents have been current world champions. His record in those bouts is 3-1-1 with one no-contest.
What’s his secret? Another age-defying fighter says he knows. George Foreman told Rick Maese of the Washington Post:
I know the secret. He doesn’t have any distractions. There’s a point where there’s so many distractions that you can’t stay in shape. But then all of a sudden, it’s like breaking the sound barrier and you can just do it as long as you want.
Whatever the formula, it works.
With uncanny instincts, defensive wizardry and in-ring guile, Hopkins continues to out-box the best the 175-pound division has to offer.
In his last fight, Hopkins chose to show he could still thump if needed. Facing the little-known, but skilled Karo Murat, Hopkins allowed himself to exchange a bit more than normal. He showed he still had a solid beard and enough punching power to make men nearly 20 years his junior respect him.
Facing Shumenov is a different challenge, though.
The WBA champion is a smart boxer himself. He doesn’t have a wealth of professional experience, but he's still an interesting opponent for the future hall of famer.
The Book on Shumenov
Talk about an amazing story.
Shumenov was inadvertently poisoned by an aunt when he was a small child. Doctors initially said he would not survive. Although he pulled through, physicians said that his growth would be stunted, and that he would need to stay away from physical activities.
The powerfully-built Kazakhstani is 6’2”.
Growing up, he and his family were poor. Now he is an attorney and his family is one of the richest in his home country.
If you didn’t know it was true, you’d swear the story is from a movie. Maybe one day it will be.
Shumenov would love for some part of that film to include a win over the legendary Hopkins.
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. But for me, this is a great opportunity to show that I am actually the best light heavyweight champion of the world.
The WBA champion has had just 15 fights, but he is a 30-year-old veteran. In his most recent bout, he successfully defended his title against Tamas Kovacs on Dec. 2013.
He’s never faced a fighter remotely close to Hopkins’ skill level. Not only will he be facing a man with extraordinary skill, but he’s also facing a fighter with almost unmatched experience. Last, but not least of Shumenov’s concerns is the fact that the bout takes place in D.C.
Hopkins was born in Philadelphia and lives in Delaware. There’s no question who the crowd will be rooting for.
Shumenov has proven he can succeed against rough odds in the past, he surely won’t be intimidated by these circumstances.
Who wins Hopkins-Shumenov, and how?
It’s easy to like Shumenov’s story, but feel-good stories don’t win fights. Shumenov is a boxer with only moderate power and hand speed that barely rates above average.
This is not a package that figures to give Hopkins major issues.
That’s assuming he’s the same fighter that outfought Murat in his last bout. At 49 years old, you can’t ever assume Hopkins will be in top form in any fight. At his age, you have to look at things on a fight-by-fight basis.
That said, unless there’s a noticeable falloff in ability, prepare to be wowed again by the most amazing 40-something performer in the history of sports.
Hopkins will win by unanimous decision.
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