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Boxing Cheat Sheet: Breakdown of Hopkins-Shumenov



By Paul Paparazzi Jones & Justin Jones – Washington, DC —There is a longstanding debate as to whether experience is the best teacher or whether youth trumps experience. Given the age gap between Bernard Hopkins (IBF) and Beibut Shumenov (WBA/IBA), it stands to reason that the outcome of Saturday’s Light Heavyweight Unification bout may help to explain this question.

In the sections that follow, we breakdown the Hopkins-Shumenov match-up, consider their respective strengths and weaknesses, and offer keys to victory for each fighter.1

BERNARD “THE ALIEN” HOPKINS

IBF Light Heavyweight Champion

Record: 54-6-2, 2 NC (32 KOs)

KO Ratio: 50%

Age: 49

Height: 6ˈ1″

Reach: 75″

Stance: Orthodox

Notable Recent Wins: Karo Murat, Tavoris Cloud, and Jean Pascal-II (thrice UD 12)

 

Background:

Hopkins’ ascent from the mean streets of North Philadelphia to boxing prominence is extraordinary and he has made a living of proving people wrong.

From upsetting Felix “Tito” Trinidad to become the undisputed Middleweight World Champion and 2001 Fighter of The Year (The Ring magazine), to setting a record for the most consecutive middleweight title defenses, Bhops has generally risen to whatever challenge boxing has thrown his way.

More recently, the 49-year-old Hopkins has focused on debunking age-related stereotypes. Though the reigning IBF Champ has achieved several age-related milestones, Bhops has his sights set on becoming the oldest boxer to unify major world titles.

Strengths:

Hopkins’ physical, psychological, and technical strengths place him among the upper echelon of boxers irrespective of era. Put succinctly, fighting is in Hopkins’ DNA.

Bhops possesses self-discipline and he hates to lose. Hopkins also boasts a chin that’s as tough as termite teeth.

The Philadelphia badass is a boxing technician who rarely wastes punches. According to CompuBox stats, in Hopkins’ three most recent wins, he landed, on average, 39% of his total punches and 44% of his power shots. Against two of these opponents, he averaged nearly 50% of his power shots landed.

Hopkins is also a skillful defender. In the fights described above, Hopkins’ opponents averaged a mere 17% of their jabs, 28% of their power punches, and 23% of their total punches.

Weaknesses:

Hopkins’ primary weakness is his age. He also has the tendency to be a slow-starter (e.g., vs. Jermain Taylor-I).

Keys to Victory:

Implement the Game Plan – Shumenov may offer some resistance, but Hopkins must show him who the boss is. Bhops must dictate the tempo of the fight and make his younger foe earn everything.

Capitalize on Your Experience – Besides losing his pro debut, Hopkins’ defeats have come against either surefire Boxing Hall of Famers (i.e., Calzaghe [class of 2014 inductee] and Jones Jr.) or former champions (i.e., Taylor and Dawson). Shumenov has yet to prove that he is among the boxing vanguard; therefore Hopkins must use his ability and expertise to out-land his opponent, while setting traps and frustrating Shumenov in the process.

Get Out of the Gates Fast – The Alien needs to start quickly and avoid giving away early rounds. Playing catch-up at 49 years old will be difficult to accomplish.

 

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BEIBUT SHUMENOV

WBA Super World Light Heavyweight Champion

IBA Light Heavyweight Champion

Record: 14-1 (9 KOs)

KO Ratio: 60%

Age: 30

Height: 6ˈ2″

Reach: 74″

Stance: Orthodox

Notable Recent Wins: Tamas Kovacs (TKO 3), Gabriel Campillo-II (SD 12)

 

Background:

Fighting out of Las Vegas, by way of Kazakhstan, the former self-promoted boxer found it difficult to get fights against top boxers. To improve his prospects, Shumenov signed with Golden Boy Promotions and he is in position to derail Bernard Hopkins’ record-breaking attempt.

Although Shumenov is the fastest fighter to be crowned world champion in the light heavyweight division and has defended his title 5 times, he remains unknown to many boxing fans.

His anonymity is due, in part, to a limited number of fights and the controversy associated with several of these contests. In 2010, for example, Shumenov avenged a decision loss to former WBA titlist Gabriel Campillo (22-6-1, 1 NC, 9 KOs). But the decision was controversial.

In his last fight, however, Shumenov looked sensational in flooring undefeated Tamas “Tomi Kid” Kovacs (23-1, 14 KOs) multiple times en route to a third round TKO win.

Strengths

Shumenov was a solid amateur and he is passionate about boxing. His extensive training regimen (7 days a week, 10-12 hours per day) and scientific approach to boxing are also noteworthy.

Shumenov has good hand speed and power in both hands. Furthermore, he varies his attack and targets the body well.

Shumenov also applies pressure effectively and he has gone the distance 6 times with a 5-1 record. Moreover, the Kazakh fighter has a sturdy chin and he has shown gradual improvement over time.

Weaknesses

Although Shumenov’s level of competition is respectable, he is inexperienced against elite light heavyweights.

Some also question whether Shumenov is focused for this match-up. By serving as his own coach, he may be doing himself a disservice.

Some boxing insiders also wonder whether the Las Vegas-based fighter is showing Bhops too much respect. Behaving in this way could make Shumenov vulnerable to The Aliens’ attempts at psychological warfare.

Keys to Victory:

Be Aggressive, But Not Careless – Aggression is good, but Hopkins usually takes full advantage of fighters’ mistakes. Don’t give him this opportunity.

Efficiency is the Key –According to SHOSTATS, Shumenov landed 27% of his jabs, 43% of his powers shots, and 34% of his total punches against Kovacs. To be effective, Shumenov will need to duplicate this level of efficiency versus The Alien.

Do Not Let Hopkins Rest –Shumenov must make Hopkins feel like a senior citizen by maintaining a constant work rate. Additionally, Beibut needs to make every part of Hopkins’ body a target for punches (e.g., arms, shoulders), because the Philadelphia native is known for his defense.

Avoid Looking for the Highlight Reel KO – A common mistake for emerging fighters is to look for a spectacular knockout. That would be a misstep against Hopkins.

Summary

In the opening presser, Hopkins stated: Love me or hate me, people understand how dangerous I can be to a fighter’s career going forward after having a date with the Alien.” We are all aware of his reputation. But, we’ll have to wait until this April 19th to determine whether experience will surpass youth in this intriguing fight.

Tale of the Tape

HOPKINS

SHUMENOV

Age:

49

30

Height:

6ˈ1″

6ˈ2″

Reach:

75″

74″

Stance:

Orthodox

Orthodox

Hometown:

Philadelphia, PA

Shymkent, Kazakhstan

Titles at Stake:

IBF Light Heavyweight Title, WBA Super World Light Heavyweight Title, IBA Light Heavyweight Title

Where:

The DC Armory, Washington, DC

When:

April 19, 2014, 9 PM ET/PT

TV: Showtime

 Showtime

 

Author Contact: Justin Jones: Justinjones2112@gmail.com, @jusjones29

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OPEN MIC: Curtis “Showtime” Stevens Discusses Johnson, Quillin, Kirkland, Mayweather Jr., and More!

Kovalev Grinds Down Agnew; Warns Light Heavyweight Division to “Stay in Shape!”

Hopkins-Shumenov Announce Light Heavyweight Unification Bout

 

Footnotes:

1 Our descriptions of strengths/weaknesses and keys to victory are not exhaustive.