by David P. Greisman
Bernard Hopkins has been the true champion at light heavyweight before.
He held that distinction in 2011 after beating Jean Pascal, who had topped Chad Dawson the year before when the lineage was vacant and Dawson and Pascal were considered the top two fighters in the division.
And that’s not even including the RING championship Hopkins won from Antonio Tarver in 2006 and lost to Joe Calzaghe in 2008, an era in which Zsolt Erdei had the strange distinction of being the lineal champion without being considered the consensus man to beat in his division.
Hopkins lost the lineal championship about a year after his win over Pascal, dropping a decision to Dawson. Yet he won one of the four major world titles last year with a win over Tavoris Cloud, and now, at 49, he is seeking to once again become the top guy at 175.
That quest continues with an April 19 bout against fellow titleholder Beibut Shumenov, a fight that will take place at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C.
“He has something that I need to be the undisputed light heavyweight champion of the world. He’s in the way of that,” Hopkins told reporters in D.C. at a March 11 news conference.
Hopkins became the true middleweight champion back in 2001 when he stopped Felix Trinidad. After that point, Hopkins had three of the four major world titles, and he even added the fourth in 2005, beating Oscar De La Hoya, who had won a belt controversially from Felix Sturm.
“And we now into 2014 — I’m not a math genius, but that’s over 12, 13 years between those years [since Trinidad],” Hopkins said to reporters later at the event. “Who would ever think, because I sure haven’t, that we’d be interviewing Bernard Hopkins on a respectful level, not a sad story, not the norm, [talking] about you have the chance to unify the light heavyweight championship. And most of y’all know how that is so realistic to talk about that now, more than ever, because of Al Haymon.”
That was in reference to the powerful boxing adviser, who not only has signed Shumenov but also added the lineal light heavyweight champion, Adonis Stevenson. Stevenson has been fighting on HBO, and Hopkins, who is with Golden Boy, fights on Showtime. The company does not presently have a working relationship with HBO. Hopkins, however, seemed to suggest that Stevenson signing with Haymon makes a fight with Adonis more possible.
(The fourth belt is held by Sergey Kovalev, who is also featured on HBO and is also angling for a shot at Stevenson,)
“He [Haymon] has to be the smartest man to understand that he will set the pieces up,” Hopkins said, before returning to the fight in the forefront against Shumenov.
“I’m not looking past him,” Hopkins said. “I’m looking through him.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.orgTags: Beibut Shumenov , Bernard Hopkins , Hopkins-Shumenov , Hopkins vs. Shumenov