Prizefight Preview: Hopkins vs. Shumenov
- Updated: April 18, 2014
Welcome back to the Prizefight Preview! In the wake of the outstanding rematch between Pacquiao and Bradley last week, where the grizzled vet returned to form to capture another title, the sweet science has once again become an old man’s game where instincts and conditioning are superior to speed and sizzle. Will the feat be repeated this weekend in Washington, D.C.?
In the elite landscape of athletes, there are three distinct (albeit subjective) categories: stars, superstars, and legends. This Saturday night on Showtime, we will see a bona fide legend in action, as IBF light heavyweight champ Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins looks to make history in a unification match against WBA title holder Beibit Shumenov. A victory for Hopkins would make him, at the ripe age of 49, the oldest boxer to ever unify a world title, while a win for Shumenov would solidify his spot as a rising star in the sport.
Having already won multiple championship belts in two weight divisions, while producing a hit-list that includes names such as Oscar, Felix, Roy, Antonio & Winky, Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KO’s) has very little left to add to his 1st ballot Hall of Fame resume. At this point, it almost seems as if his lone goal is to monopolize the “oldest boxer to (fill in the blank)” categories that are readily available. If all goes well over the next year or so, B-Hop could very well accumulate all of the major straps at 175 to become the undisputed light heavyweight champ at the age of 50…yes folks, five-zero! Shoot, I’m just hoping I can ride a bike at that age…and/or eat solid food….
The road to this feat will not be easy, however, as the young guns of the division all have Hopkins on their respective radars. The latest contestant comes in the form of WBA champ Beibit Shumenov (14-1, 9 KO’s), a Kazakh Olympian who took the fast track to his first world title, earning the belt in only his 9th pro match. His boxer-puncher style has been a tough matrix to solve, as he is known for consistently throwing hard shots from awkward angles at a high work rate. It will be fascinating to see how Shumenov reacts to the spotlight and pressure of his first big pay-cable main event, as the hot lights and hostile D.C. crowd may have an effect on his performance.
Those variables are just another day at the office for Hopkins, however, as 2014 marks his 20th straight year at the world championship level of the sport. Shumenov may have youth on his side, but the experience factor is completely on one side of the squared circle. This, in my estimation, will be a big factor in the 2nd half of the match, as B-Hop makes the necessary adjustments and cranks up his punch-and-clinch approach in order to frustrate Shumenov and steal rounds. The bout should remain competitive round to round, but ultimately it will be Hopkins winning nearly every frame en route to a comfortable distance victory.
PREDICTION: Bernard Hopkins by unanimous decision, 116-112, 117-111 x2
The co-feature of the evening is an interesting cross-roads encounter between a young title holder on the rise and a seasoned former champ who is still at the top of his game. The IBF welterweight strap will be up for grabs as Shawn “Showtime” Porter puts his title on the line for the 1st time against former 2-division kingpin Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi.
As an unbeaten champ in boxing’s rock star division, there’s a lot to be gained for Porter (23-0, 14 KO’s) if he is able to outbox one of the most clever boxers in the business on Saturday night. A win would put the Akron native in the mix for a big-$$$ scrap with fellow Golden Boy stable mates such as Thurman, Guerrero, Khan, Collazo, Broner, and Maidana. A lackluster loss, however, would send the young slugger to the bottom of the charts in a heartbeat, as victories are at a premium in the ultra-loaded 147 pound division these days.
In the other corner, we have another ageless wonder in Paulie Malignaggi (33-5, 7 KO’s), who, like his main event counterpart, seems to be improving in the twilight of a long & successful pro career. His recent performances have shown that his trademark timing and reflexes are still well in tact, and that he has the gas tank to go 12 hard rounds with any of the top dogs in the kennel.
As much as I believe that this will be an ugly style clash with very little clean punching and boatloads of excessive clinching, I am still very much intrigued by how things will play out in the late stages of the contest. Malignaggi generally finishes strong, while Porter is much more effective with his pot-shots and combinations in the first half of the match. Will the judges give Paulie credit for his accurate jab, or will Porter’s flashier power shots to the head and body allow him to pile up the points? This is a tough one to call, but I’m going to lean towards Porter, if for no other reason, than that his shoe-shine punching style is pleasing to the judges eyes even if those shots aren’t all that powerful or accurate. Hey, it worked for Sugar Ray against Marvelous Marvin….
PREDICTION: Shawn Porter by split decision, 116-112, 115-113, 113-115
SEE YA AT THE FIGHTS!!!