LAS VEGAS - Reigning World Boxing Association (WBA) Super and International Boxing Association (IBA) Light Heavyweight World Champion Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9 KO's) celebrates his fourth anniversary as world champion next month but he really didn't arrive on the worldwide boxing scene until this past December 14th in his SHOWTIME debut.
The 30-year-old Shumenov set a light heavyweight record for capturing a world title in the fewest career fights, 10, when he won (Jan. 10, 2010) a 12-round decision over Gabriel Campillo in Las Vegas. Shumenov's fifth successful world title defense was an impressive performance over previously undefeated challenger Tomas "Tomi Kid" Kovacs (23-1, 14 KOs) on "Danger Zone," headlined by Marcus Maidana's upset of Adrian Broner, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Shumenov, the 2004 Kazakhstan Olympian who lives in Las Vegas, dropped Kovacs at the end of round one with a picture-perfect left hook to the European champion's chin. The powerful Kazak briefly switched to southpaw in the second round, decking Kovacs with a left uppercut, and referee Rafael Ramos halted the fight at the 2:55 mark of the third round after a battered Kovacs was knocked down for the third time in the fight.
Although he hadn't fought in more than a year, Shumenov showed little ring rust, if any at all, as he patiently stalked Kovacs, who Shumenov expected to be aggressive from the opening bell. "From watching some of his past fights," the 30-year-old Shumenov explained, "I expected him to come forward and fight inside. I was prepared to counter him, but he fought defensively and I had to set him up. I feinted a lot more than in my past fights, moved better, and I eventually got him.
"My goal has always been to unify and Golden Boy and Showtime are going to give me that opportunity. We tried to make a couple of unifications and different fights that for one reason or another fell through. We tried to made unification fights with [Nathan] Cleverly and [Chad] Dawson when they held belts, but they weren't interested in fighting me. I tried to unify with a scheduled fight against [then WBO champion Juergen] Braehmer but he ran out of town three days before our fight."
The winner and still world champion, Beibut Shumenov
Aligning himself with Golden Boy and Showtime has positioned Shumenov for a potential unification fight with International Boxing Federation (IBF) Bernard "The Alien" Hopkins, who has the same promoter and fights for the same network as Shumenov. Hopkins attended Shumenov's fight in San Antonio and went on record saying he wants to fight Shumenov for both belts in late March or early April.
"Bernard Hopkins is a legendary fighter and it would be an honor to fight him," Shumenov added. "He said he wants to fight me, I want to fight him. If I had my choice of unifying against any of the other world champions in the 175-pound division, I would pick Bernard Hopkins because he is a six-time world champion who is headed to the Hall of Fame. Hopkins already proved that age isn't an issue and maybe he isn't human. The other two world champions, [WBC, Adonis] Stevenson and [WBO, Sergey] Kovalev, only became world champions this year and they haven't beaten opponents at their peaks like Hopkins has so many times. Stevenson beat Dawson after [Andre] Ward destroyed him and [Tavoris] Cloud wasn't the same after Hopkins fought him. Kovalev won his title from Cleverly, who I had been trying to fight for a few years because he had been built up and had never fought a top guy.
"I want to prove that I am the best 175-pound champion in the world and the way to do that is to beat the other champions. I think if fans really support having one world champion in our division, maybe all sides can get together to do a tournament with the winner of a fight between me and Hopkins going against the Stevenson-Kovalev winner. It's been done before."