Bernard Hopkins eyes history, again

Philly boxer Bernard Hopkins (left) and Beibut Shumenov stare down each other during Friday's weigh-in. "I'm defending something bigger than a title. My legendary 20-plus-year legacy is more important than anything around my waist," Hopkins said.
Philly boxer Bernard Hopkins (left) and Beibut Shumenov stare down each other during Friday's weigh-in. "I'm defending something bigger than a title. My legendary 20-plus-year legacy is more important than anything around my waist," Hopkins said. (LUIS M. ALVAREZ / AP)
Posted: April 20, 2014

Since his most recent fight, Bernard Hopkins has celebrated his 49th birthday, which meant another year was added to the record he holds as the oldest boxer to hold a world championship belt.

Of course, when one making his living in the ring reaches that age, he doesn't know how many more times he will be able to go through the ropes for battle.

For Hopkins, the charismatic Philadelphian, the next time is Saturday night at the D.C. Armory in Washington against Beibut Shumenov. The matchup is to unify the world light-heavyweight titles of the International Boxing Federation (Hopkins) and the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Association (Shumenov).

And it sounds as if Hopkins wants the world to pay attention to this bout, hinting maybe that there won't be many more involving the man who now calls himself "The Alien."

"When you watch Saturday, you're going to watch something you've seen over and over," Hopkins said earlier this week at a news conference. "I can't help if you all get bored. You're going to have to write the story. Enjoy and understand that this is history.

"I'm defending something bigger than a title. My legendary 20-plus-year legacy is more important than anything around my waist."

Hopkins, who weighed in at 1721/2 pounds on Friday, carries a record of 54-6-2 with 32 knockouts into the fight. Shumenov, 30, of Kazakhstan, who weighed 1741/2 pounds and, at 6-foot-2, is slightly taller than the 6-1 Hopkins, is 14-1 with nine knockouts.

While Shumenov, who lives in Las Vegas, wants to be the one who unifies the belts in the fewest career fights, Hopkins has far more going for him.

Hopkins is trying to become the oldest fighter to unify the belts and with a win, he can take another step toward becoming the undisputed light-heavyweight champion if a fight with World Boxing Council champion Adonis Stephenson can be worked out.

"This is really a defense of my legacy," Hopkins said of Saturday's bout. "Belts are nice, but they're nicer when you're younger and establishing a foundation. My foundation was laid down years ago."

True, but that didn't stop Hopkins from grabbing both of Shumenov's belts and moving them to where he was seated at the dais on Thursday. Shumenov was mostly expressionless when it happened, but after Friday's weigh-in he called the move "disrespectful."

This is Hopkins' first fight since last Oct. 26 when he scored a unanimous decision over Karo Murat in Atlantic City. That was the first defense of the IBF title he won the previous March – at age 48, oldest ever to hold a belt – over Tavoris Cloud in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Certainly, Hopkins holds an overwhelming advantage Saturday night in skill, experience and craftiness. Shumenov, who knocked out Tamas Kovacs in the third round in his most recent title defense last December in San Antonio, has some power but is not difficult to hit.

"I know a little bit about him but he knows a lot about me," Hopkins said. "So get ready for school, student. No disrespect, this is logic. I am the professor with a Ph.D."

Two other championship fights will precede the Hopkins-Shumenov showdown. Undefeated Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin (30-0) of Brooklyn, N.Y., will put his World Boxing Organization middleweight title on the line against Lukas Konecny (50-4) of the Czech Republic, and Shawn Porter (23-0-1) of Cleveland defends his IBF welterweight title against former world champ Paulie Malignaggi (33-5) of Brooklyn.


jjuliano@phillynews.com

@joejulesinq

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