After 49-year-old boxing legend Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KO) beat Beibut Shumenov via split decision on Saturday night, the veteran called out lineal champion Adonis Stevenson (23-1, 20 KO) in hopes of putting together another title unification bout.
Hopkins wants to be the undisputed light heavyweight champion.
Hopkins successfully defended the IBF Light Heavyweight Championship and won the WBA (Super) and IBA light heavyweight titles on Saturday against Shumenov, but adding Stevenson’s WBC and The Ring light heavyweight belts would cement his status as the best fighter in the division.
While the feat would be impressive enough on its own, the fact that he will be approaching 50 years old when the fight would likely happen makes it all the more impressive.
Stevenson must defeat Andrzej Fonfara on May 24 before his camp can consider the fight against Hopkins this fall, but with the lineal champion winning 10 fights in a row, the stage has been set for an epic battle.
Hopkins told Dan Rafael of ESPN.com about his desire to unify the titles against Stevenson and become the undisputed champion:
I want to be undisputed light heavyweight champion this year. The best fighter pound for pound is Floyd Mayweather and behind him is Andre Ward, but I ain't too far from the top three. I feel my age and the way I'm doing it, I'm not fighting cream puffs and I'm not done yet.
I must be the undisputed light heavyweight champion before I leave. We are with Showtime until I end my career and whatever fight it is I want to be light heavyweight champion before 50. Stevenson, I'm coming to Canada. I'm getting my papers together.
The bout wouldn’t be a true undisputed title fight due to Sergey Kovalev holding the WBO Light Heavyweight Championship, but Kovalev's affiliation with HBO—there are currently issues between Showtime and HBO—would be the biggest roadblock in a true divisional unification down the line.
For Hopkins, fighting Stevenson and holding five divisional titles would be the ultimate victory right now.
As Kevin Byrne of The Irish Sun predicted on Twitter, Hopkins has the ability to steal the win against Stevenson:
With Hopkins already claiming he would fight Stevenson in Canada, Brian Campbell of ESPN took to Twitter to explain why this is great news for boxing fans:
If Stevenson is victorious in his next fight, there is little doubt that the matchmakers at Showtime will do whatever they can to make this title unification bout come to fruition.
Hopkins is a notoriously slow starter in the ring, and that would be an issue for the fast-paced tempo of Stevenson early in this proposed fight. Hopkins proved on Saturday that his defensive style can help him withstand the slow start, though, so he would have to focus on avoiding Stevenson’s power punches.
Once the fight drags past the fifth round, Hopkins would start using his effective counterpunching to open up his offense. Stevenson has struggled with defensive consistency during his career, and if Hopkins can rattle him early, the veteran could do serious damage and even end the fight early.
Both men are equipped to go all 12 rounds, but how the judges score the fight would be the storyline of the night.
*Stats via BoxRec.com.