When American champion Bernard Hopkins (54-6-2, 2 NC) squares off against Kazakh brawler Beibut Shumenov (14-1-0), boxing fans from around the world be treated to the ultimate contrast between age and experience.
Hopkins comes into this fight as the defending IBF light heavyweight champion, but at 49 years old, there are serious questions about how well he will handle the relentless pressure from Shumenov on Saturday night.
At only 30 years old (almost 20 years younger than his challenger), Shumenov enters the fight as the defending WBA super and IBA light heavyweight champion. The talented fighter also comes into this bout with a six-fight winning streak.
The resulting battle between Hopkins and Shumenov should have boxing fans ecstatic.
Here is all the vital viewing information for the marquee main event, a full preview and prediction.
When: Saturday, April 19 at 9:30 p.m.
Where: DC Armory in Washington, D.C.
Breaking Down Hopkins vs. Shumenov
While there have been plenty of criticisms over the last decade about Hopkins overstaying his welcome in the sport, he has proven time after time that he is still a viable challenger.
Hopkins hasn’t knocked anyone out since Oscar De La Hoya in 2004, but he has become the master of working the judges to get the decision victory. With his power waning and the damage accumulating, Hopkins sporadic performances over the last three years could signal the end is coming.
ESPN’s boxing insider, Dan Rafael, thinks Hopkins still has it, though:
Boxing experts and fans question how long Hopkins can realistically stay at the top of the mountain, but the 49-year-old told Scott Christ of Bad Left Hook about why he has been able to stay in the upper echelon for so long:
I think my longevity has a lot to do with the early preparation in my life and my career. I took care of myself like I always have for the last 20 years and I'm reaping the benefits now.
A lot of it has to do with just what I do and don't put in my body. A lot of long-term discipline and staying the course, and not derailing many times during down time, or binging on things that aren't good for you. I think that plays a big role in longevity.
Instead of using his once-devastating power, Hopkins now fights using his mind, his elite defense and his counterpunching. It will be hard for Shumenov to break through Hopkins’ game plan, but if he can hurt the champion early, Hopkins could be looking at a loss in this fight.
Shumenov has the raw power to knock Hopkins out.
With three knockouts in the last four fights, Shumenov has the power in his hands and quickness inside to do serious damage in a hurry and end the fight abruptly. Shumenov hasn’t fought a challenger as defensively sound as Hopkins, but he has enough strength and accuracy to do serious damage if the opportunities present themselves.
Both men are equipped to take this fight the distance. If the fight does go all 12 rounds, Hopkins’ endurance and experience in these extended brawls will help him do enough on the judges’ scorecards to earn the victory.
Predicted Winner: Hopkins via unanimous decision.
*Stats via BoxRec.com.