Bernard Hopkins was the favorite this time out, and he delivered, taking Beibut Shumenov to school over 12 rounds and unifying the IBF and WBA light heavyweight titles tonight on Showtime. Bizarrely, the decision was split, with Hopkins getting two 116-111 cards, and Shumenov taking a card from judge Gustavo Padilla of Panama, 114-113. BLH had it 118-109 for Hopkins.
Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KO) started slow and gauged what Shumenov (14-2, 9 KO) was planning to do with the fight. Turns out that Shumenov planned to do very little, so starting in the third round, Hopkins took over. It would be a massive stretch to say that Bernard stepped on the gas, but he began to do his usual thing, cracking Shumenov with right hands, which the self-trained opponent was wide open for all night.
In the 11th round, Hopkins flicked a masking jab at Shumenov, then followed with a right that put the Kazakh fighter on the canvas. Hopkins was looking for that KO he wants to end the drought, but that wasn't to be.
"I chose the wrong strategy and the wrong style," Shumenov told Jim Gray, saying that Hopkins was the better man. Shumenov added, "I'm angry that I couldn't get the victory. I'm a true warrior. I want to only fight the best. Tonight obviously wasn't my night."
Hopkins, 49, now plans to go after Adonis Stevenson, calling him out after the fight and indicating his willingness to go to Canada for the bout. The WBC and Ring Magazine champion fights Andrzej Fonfara on May 24 in Montreal.