by David P. Greisman
Bernard Hopkins expects to face fellow light heavyweight titleholder Beibut Shumenov in the coming months. He spoke with BoxingScene.com on Jan. 24.
BoxingScene.com: The last time we spoke was before Beibut Shumenovís fight against Tomas Kovacs. What did you think of Shumenovís win over Kovacs?
Hopkins: ďCredible. A guy that you got to take serious and not look at his record and dictate in your head and your mind that itís a sparring match or an easy fight. For me ó I canít speak for any other champion in the division ó I take everybody serious. More now than ever, and I always take everybody serious because of where Iím at in my life and what I want to accomplish in my life.
ďWhen I say Ďwhere Iím at in my life,í Iím talking age-wise, because age is important. Here I am going to fight somebody thatís 15-plus years younger, that has talent and [is] a champion, and Iím going to take the title at 50, at 49. I think the burden is on me and not actually on the guy Iím fighting, no matter who it is, whether itís Shumenov, Stevenson or Kovalev. Thatís where Iím at as far as in my mind and in my life right now.Ē
BoxingScene.com: It was a short fight at less than three rounds. Does that show you enough?
Hopkins: ďIt didnít, but YouTube and DVDs, and I have a library guy that gets me any fights that I need when the time comes. Thereís so much footage and so much things out there. But thatís one thing: He will be able to find a lot of material on Bernard Hopkins. But itís what Bernard Hopkins that he has to worry about, and also preparation with sparring partners and whatever.
ďI think a lot of fights in the past, the misconception is Bernard comes this way, he comes that way, heís going to do this, and then when the fight happens, he does none of that. Thatís the initial shock to a guy that canít adjust, because the experience is not there from longevity. I think part of that canít be fixed because time fixes everything, whether you like it that way or this way. They have to learn from experience.Ē
BoxingScene.com: What are the weaknesses in Shumenov that you can exploit?
Hopkins: ďI think the weakness is to let him know that he canít beat Bernard Hopkins, and that something is going to be done to him that heíll have to make adjustments. And if he canít make those adjustments early, then heís going to see himself in school, learning his ABCs. Itís no magic. Ö
ďWhen you see the experience from a guy thatís bringing a youthful body, thatís not 25, thatís not 35, and damn sure ainít 49, even though I am 49, along with the overwhelming experience of rťsumť, compared to not just him, Shumenov, but all the light heavyweight champions out there. When it comes to the experience, they all in trouble. When it comes to how do they adjust to me and that Iím adjusting to them, Iíve seen their styles. Show me something I havenít seen in 27 years.
ďThey have to adjust to me. How significant and strange that is where champions and younger guys have to adjust to an old man?Ē
BoxingScene.com: You were in San Antonio as Shumenovís promoter, but you were also there scouting him. Whatís it like being in a dual role where youíre trying to build him up, but now youíll be in the ring trying to tear him down?
Hopkins: ďItís being versatile to know and understand that Iíve been doing this role, even for my own career, of promoting myself, even with the Tito flag, even with things that was distasteful, even with Joe Calzaghe, so when youíve been doing that with my own career because I donít feel like the media was pushing me like it was pushing everybody else, or promoters, I felt like I had to be able to have people either love me or hate me, and then at the end of the day, if I wanted to look like Iím a guy that can predict my own destination, then I have to win more than I lose.
ďAnd so itís easy for me to be in this position of Golden Boy and promoting Shumenov and anybody else with the possibility of fighting these guys, because then that hat comes off as a promoter, and then ĎThe Aliení hat comes on, as in Iím going to kick your ass. Thatís a personality thatís normally called somebody thatís bipolar, somebody that has multiple personalities. Well, I do, but I know how to control the family man, ĎThe Alien,í the boxer, the Golden Boy partner. You donít see many other fighters doing that, whether theyíre active or not. I think that makes me not only different, but it makes me kind of unique.Ē
BoxingScene.com: But after this fight, youíre going to have to put that Golden Boy hat back on.
Hopkins: ďAnd I will hug him, and Iíll say, ĎDonít let this lesson of knowledge that you receive, it was painful, I understand your eye, I understand this, I understand that, but donít let this lesson deter you from winning more titles and being in boxing. I told Kelly Pavlik the same thing. Iíve got a history of telling guys that Iíve actually destroyed, and then in the corner try to talk to [Tavoris] Cloud. They donít listen.
ďI understand that when I leave, itís going to be analyzed by some smart person, and said, ĎYou know, thereís some good fighters that couldíve been great fighters, but they never could bounce back from Bernard Hopkinsí ó I guess you could say, hypnosis.Ē
BoxingScene.com: But you need Shumenov to listen to you and bounce back, and you as a promoter will need to tell fans that this guy deserves attention even though you just beat him.
Hopkins: ďWell, they got destroyed by me, not Mini-Mo. Itís not embarrassing to get beat up by Bernard Hopkins. Hell, get in line. But itís embarrassing to get beat up by somebody you donít know, some shmuck. I mean, if you get beat up some journeyman thatís 49 years old. But nobody is frowning at a guy that fights Bernard Hopkins and loses. They say, ĎHell, what else is new? Get in line!í Thereís a whole line full of people.
ďOne thing about losing to Bernard Hopkins, thereís no embarrassment for a young guy, because nobody is saying, ĎOh, you lost to a 49-year-old man.í You got to be a hater to say that, because when you got four or five different people and youíve got a history of years back, well, Antwun Echols, or Felix Trinidad, I was 35 years old, they called me old then. So when you lose to me, they say, ĎWell, you lost to the wizard. You lost to the alien.
ďThatís the difference, and thatís the unique thing about me is that a young guy can lose to me and still have a career.Ē
Pick up a copy of Davidís new book, ďFighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,Ē at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at email@example.com