It was already done, but now it's totally official: Bernard Hopkins will look to unify his IBF light heavyweight title with the WBA belt held by Beibut Shumenov on April 19 at the D.C. Armory in our nation's capital, and in the Showtime co-feature, Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin will defend the WBO middleweight title against Lukas Konecny.
Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KO) beat Tavoris Cloud for the IBF belt in March 2013, then defended for the first time against Karo Murat in October. Shumenov (14-1, 9 KO) is a paper champion but a talented fighter who blew past a grossly overmatched Tamas Kovacs in a December audition bout on Showtime as part of the Broner-Maidana card.
Quillin (30-0, 22 KO) gets another rather soft touch with 35-year-old Konecny (50-4, 23 KO), a Polish junior middleweight who was beaten convincingly in his last major fight, a loss to Zaurbek Baysangurov in October 2012. Since then, he's won a couple of fights at middleweight against mediocre opponents. The good thing about Konecny is he makes for exciting fights. The bad thing is that he's a little long in the tooth and he's small, and doesn't have the punching power to bother Quillin, most likely. It might be "fun," but in all reality it should not be a serious challenge for Quillin.
Here are the press release quotes from the fighters:
"It's no secret that my one of my biggest goals has been to unify the titles and getting to do that in a city where I have a lot of history is the best-case scenario. I'm coming back to break another record by unifying the title and I'm looking to get my first knockout since I fought Oscar De La Hoya in 2004. I know Shumenov is tough, but I'm tougher and I'm not going to let him make a name for himself by being the one to stop me."
"I am very excited that the fight is going to happen against one of the greatest fighters ever. I am going to do everything possible and impossible to get the victory."
"I can't wait to get back in the ring and defend my title once again. I'm excited to be fighting in front of the great fans in D.C. and I will give them a show on April 19. Konecny is an experienced challenger, and you can't overlook anyone with 50 wins, but I'm going home with the title, and I'll be looking for another knockout."
"I have a lot more experience than Quillin and the fans will see that on April 19. This is my first fight in the U.S. and I don't plan on going home without that belt. Every fighter dreams of fighting for and winning a world championship, and I am thankful for the chance to do that against Peter Quillin."