Bernard Hopkins' longevity is already the stuff of legend, and on Saturday night, the 49-year-old IBF light heavyweight titleholder looks to unify his belt with the WBA title held by Beibut Shumenov.
Shumenov, 18 and a half years Hopkins' junior, is the latest in a long line of fighters looking to end the career of the former "Executioner," now "The Alien," but Bernard has no plans to go anywhere.
"I think my longevity has a lot to do with the early preparation in my life and my career. I took care of myself like I always have for the last 20 years and I'm reaping the benefits now," Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KO) said on Wednesday at his media workout.
"A lot of it has to do with just what I do and don't put in my body. A lot of long-term discipline and staying the course, and not derailing many times during down time, or binging on things that aren't good for you. I think that plays a big role in longevity."
After winning the IBF belt from Tavoris Cloud in March 2013 and defending successfully against Karo Murat last October, another birthday has come and gone for Hopkins. Shumenov (14-1, 9 KO), meanwhile, finally got a major shot on Showtime in December, in what amounted to an audition fight to get Hopkins in the ring. Shumenov trounced Tamas Kovacs, but he's taking on a whole different ball of wax this time out.
"I'm feeling great, most of the work has been done. I cannot wait to show what I am capable of," Shumenov said. "To show the world that I am the best light heavyweight in the world."
"I'll say that Shumenov is saying the right things because anything else contrary to that would hurt the fight and will not help ticket sales. People want to see you when you're still relevant, so to me this is the time to show and perform on a worldwide stage," Hopkins said. "Shumenov wants to make a name for himself by defeating me. All the young guns want to make it big, and beating me would do that for Shumenov, but that's not going to happen."
To nobody's surprise, Hopkins isn't nervous going into the fight, but he is excited. "To me, there are no butterflies. I'm eager, but it's controlled for that moment to come and then we'll have the fireworks. That's the good part about it. I'm on stage, and as any entertainer loves the stage, you love the attention."
Shumenov says he's prepared for the biggest shot of his career, and the sort of fight he says he's been trying to make for years.
"I haven't missed any days of training. Every day after my workout my body was exhausted and the next day I was always excited to go to the gym. Every day was valuable for me, every day I saw improvement. It made me happy to go to the gym."