By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — The old man is at it again, railing against the tethers of time, and all the doubters. Doing all of the unusual things he usually does, like defying all logic and commonsense.
Bernard Hopkins wears that familiar grin that connotes he knows something no one else knows. And he often does. At 49, Hopkins will be attempting to notch another annal to a long list of Hall of Fame accomplishments when he faces Beibut Shumenov in a light heavyweight unification fight on Showtime Championship Boxing April 19 in Washington, D.C.
Hopkins, the IBF belt holder, won his first major championship belt on April 29, 1995. Shumenov, the WBA titlist, was 11 at the time.
The 19-year age gap between Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 knockouts) and the 30-year-old Shumenov (14-1, 9 KO) is nothing new. About the only one older than Hopkins in the ring now each time he fights is the referee.
Hopkins owns a number of age-related boxing records. “The Alien,” as Hopkins likes to call himself now, is the oldest fighter to win a world title, oldest fighter to hold a world title and oldest fighter to defend a world title. Against Shumenov at the DC Armory, Hopkins will attempt to become the oldest fighter to unify title belts.
“When you look at the world and some of the profound, great athletes that gave us history, and you look at them in a certain light, I want to be one of those,” Hopkins said. “Being in a position to do, it gives me that [motivation] to be truthful and respectful for what you do. If you don’t respect your job, it’s going to disrespect you.
“I’m 49 knocking on 50, and I don’t see that as a problem. I’m not on a senior citizens tour, keep my dedication to boxing, and commitment to hard work and dedication that shows and gets sweeter now. As the years go by, and everything I accomplish, it’s history. It’s one chance to watch the greats. You want to see something one more time and you’ll see again, here I am.”
Shumenov may have something to say about that. He hasn’t lost in five years. He’s stopped three of his last four opponents. But he hasn’t faced anyone as wily and experiences as Hopkins, who enters the ring as a heavy favorite.
Said Hopkins, “I’ve been in this game almost three decades, and there’s no style through the amateurs, short amateur career I had, I didn’t have 100 fights, I didn’t have 50 fights, but the short amateur career that I had, that and the one in state penitentiary is that it’s no style, I repeat, there’s no style on this planet earth dealing with boxing that I haven’t seen or been in the ring with.”
Hopkins has been boxing for almost as long as Shumenov has been alive. He feels that will work greatly in favor next Saturday on Showtime.
“It’s nothing I haven’t seen that I’ve been in this game for 26, 27 years that’s going to surprise me April 19, and that’s not underestimating anybody,” Hopkins said. “That’s not overlooking. That’s just keeping it real by the time I’ve been in this game and by the time I’ve been a student and still considered a student, a little edge of a teacher in this game that I’m in.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.