Beibut Shumenov speaks five languages, including English, fluently. But he was rendered mute on Thursday afternoon when discussing what he is going to do when he steps into the ring against Bernard Hopkins in a light heavyweight unification fight in Washington D. C. on April 19.
Several times Shumenov, the 30-year-old WBA champion from Kazakhstan who now lives in Las Vegas, was asked by reporters what he planned to do against Hopkins and each time Shumenov politely refused to answer. At times it sounded like an interrogation with an uncooperative witness.
What was hilarious about Shumenov’s secrecy is that the 49-year-old Hopkins, the oldest boxing world champion in history, has seen virtually every style imaginable during his career which started when Ronald Reagan was President of the United States.
“YouTube, the information highway, you can find out anything about anyone. It’s hard to be the invisible man in the boxing business,’’ said Hopkins, the IBF champion. “People are going to know what you can do. It’s just a matter of knowing how to crack that safe. I’ve been in the game since 1988. I’ve seen almost every style you can imagine. This ain’t about giving away any secrets. Everybody has a plan until they get hit as the old Mike Tyson line goes.’’
Hopkins has a record of 64-6-2 with 32 KOs and he is energized by the prospects of fighting Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs) and kicking off a run toward unifying the light heavyweight division. If he beats Shumenov, Hopkins will have two of the four major championships. But he said he only considers having three – WBC, WBA and IBF – as being the undisputed title. Sergey Kovalev is the WBO champion.
Hopkins’ run seems more than a fantasy now that Adonis Stevenson, the WBC champion, has jumped over to Showtime where Hopkins and Shumenov are now fighting. Hopkins said he has been thinking about the unification for the last four fights.
“Those last two fights (against Tavoris Cloud and Karo Murat) paved the road to get here. This is the pre-climax,’’ Hopkins said. “It’s where I need to be and where I need to go through to get there. I’ve had to be patient to fight my mandatories. I’m looking to show the world that I want to be undisputed (champion) in two weight classes in modern time. I love history and I love trying to break records.’’
Hopkins was the unified middleweight champion after he knocked out Felix Trinidad to cap a unification tournament in 2001. He later lost the title to Jermain Taylor in a disputed decision. The amazing thing is that Hopkins is still going strong 13 years later and Taylor is barely competing.
It’s all enough to render Shumenov speechless. Unless he’s saving all his talking for the ring on April 19.