My interest was peaked so I decided to tune in and watch the senior citizen (by boxing’s standards) that I have admired and criticized throughout his career. Hopkin’s trash talk has often turned me off him, but there is no denying the talent he holds as a world champion at the advanced age of 49 years old. The man is simply denying Father Time.
Beibut Shumenov was his opponent and I had never heard of him. Hopkins didn’t disappoint as he became the oldest fighter to unify the major titles in the light heavyweight division when he won a 12-round split decision to improve to 55-6-2 (with 32 KO’s). Shumenov dropped to 14-2 (with nine KO’s).
It was a relatively slow fight and boring at times, but Hopkins did what he usually does: Let the other boxer bring it to him and he picked him apart. Shumenov’s defense wasn’t very good and Hopkins jabbed him to death as he won the surprisingly split decision verdict.
Hopkins has always reminded me a little of another great middleweight champion in “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler. He doesn’t have the intimidating presence Hagler had (the bald head and goatee) but he’s a heavy hitter that can also be a shrewd boxing technician in the ring. He knows how to lay back and let a fighter come to him while he uses his jab effectively and closes in for the kill (like a lion hunting his prey) when he has somebody injured or hurt.
Hopkins has turned his life around after he very easily could have become just another a statistic in the Philadelphia neighborhood he grew up in. He was arrested 30 times before he turned 17 and eventually was sentenced to 18 years in prison for armed robbery. But, Hopkins didn’t become institutionalized like so many do, he turned to boxing and in the process, he became a legend. In the process of turning his life around, Hopkins changed boxing history. Makes you wonder, “What if he didn’t find boxing?” He could have easily been just another lifer prisoner and featured on MSNBC’s Lockup series.
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