by David P. Greisman
Beibut Shumenov has a lot of respect for Bernard Hopkins, who he will face on April 19 in Washington, D.C. So much respect that he refers to Hopkins as “a legend,” as “extraordinary,” and as an elite level opponent that he won’t be able to knockout.
Shumenov still believes he’ll win, of course, a victory that would allow him to unify two of the light heavyweight world titles. The 30-year-old from Kazakhstan and now fighting out of Las Vegas is 14-1 with 9 knockouts, and he spoke with BoxingScene.com on March 11.
BoxingScene.com: What did you think of the mind games Bernard Hopkins was trying to play on you earlier?
Shumenov: “I don’t think anything. I just know that I’m going to fight one of the greatest fighters ever. He’s a legend who beat so many other legends.”
BoxingScene.com: All the other media members are over there talking with Hopkins right now, but you are the other person in this fight. Why should people be paying attention to you going into this fight with Bernard Hopkins?
Shumenov: “I don’t really expect anything from them, but I’m here to prove that I’m the best light heavyweight champion in the world.”
BoxingScene.com: You’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. There are fighters who wouldn’t fight you, and you weren’t getting a lot of attention. What was that journey like for you?
Shumenov: “It was because I had poor management, because I was self-promoting myself. That’s why I couldn’t get those elite level fighters. But for this kind of fight, I’ve been dreaming all my life. I’ve been ready to fight at the elite level for several years now.”
BoxingScene.com: And you still consider Bernard Hopkins, at 49, to be the elite level.
Shumenov: “I consider him the best champion. And for me, it’s a way to prove that I am the best champion, because he’s got the highest boxing IQ, the highest boxing skills. You never know what he’s going to do. You need to expect the unexpected from him.”
BoxingScene.com: So how do you beat a guy with that great a boxing IQ?
Shumenov: “I cannot reveal that. I’m ready, but I cannot reveal that.”
BoxingScene.com: Has there anybody that you’ve ever faced before that—
Shumenov (cutting in): “Nobody. I never faced anybody at Bernard’s level. But I am ready. I always try new things. I train seven days a week. And even though I have less amount of fights, I can catch up to those experienced fighters, because I always do experiments, try new things, all the time I try to improve myself.”
BoxingScene.com: When you signed with Golden Boy Promotions, did they tell you that you’d be getting a fight with Bernard Hopkins, or were you hoping that would happen?
Shumenov: “No. I didn’t hear anything. But I wanted to fight with the best.”
BoxingScene.com: Who’s your trainer right now?
Shumenov: “I am the head coach of my team, but I have a lot of team members who help me. My brother, when I spar, we upload the videos, and he’s my worst critic, so we discuss, we share our opinions, how to be improved and how to remove those mistakes.”
BoxingScene.com: What fights of Hopkins’ have you looked at?
Shumenov: “All the fights.”
BoxingScene.com: Were there certain fights that you were looking more closely at?
Shumenov: “I cannot reveal that. I don’t want to have people know how I think.”
BoxingScene.com: Hopkins has a very good chin. Do you think you can knock him out?
Shumenov: “I’m not going to reveal that either. But I have power in both hands. I can knock anybody out. But the problem is Bernard isn’t going to let anybody knock him out. Even if he faced a heavyweight champion, not going to happen. And I don’t expect the knockout. I am planning to win every round, 12 rounds.”
BoxingScene.com: Why do you think Hopkins is still so good despite the fact that he’s 49 years old?
Shumenov: “He’s just extraordinary human. He’s superhuman. He’s got better physical condition than most of the younger guys. He’s a extraordinary human.”
BoxingScene.com: And why are you different than those who have not been able to beat him?
Shumenov: “I don’t know. Maybe I am more dedicated than the others and am more driven to all the time improve myself.”
BoxingScene.com: What else do you want people to know?
Shumenov: “I just want to say hi, and thanks to all of my supporters, to all of my supporters from Kazakhstan and Las Vegas. I’m not going to disappoint you guys.”
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