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Beibut Shumenov targets mandatory title fight against Denis Lebedev

Shumenov hopes to secure a title fight against WBA and IBF cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev, who he suspects may not want to fight him.

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Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11 KOs) currently has his sights set on a mandatory title fight against reigning WBA and IBF titlist Denis Lebedev (29-2, 22 KOs) and would like to face him this summer. Shumenov, the WBA's interim champion, is Lebedev's mandatory challenger for a fight that's due by September 21, but Shumenov would like to get it on sooner than later.

There's some speculation that Lebedev may seek out a more lucrative fight instead of facing Shumenov, but Lebedev's manager Vadim Kornilov at least says that they would have no problem coming to fight Stateside where Shumenov has made his home the past several years. Shumenov, for his part, though, isn't so sure that Lebedev will be willing to fight him as he tells ESPN.

"I have heard rumors that Lebedev doesn't want to fight me and, if this is true and he relinquishes his WBA super belt, then I want to fight (interim titlist Yunier) Dorticos because every organization should only have one champion in each division," Shumenov said. "I hope this isn't the case, as I have been waiting to fight Lebedev since I won the WBA interim title back in July of 2015. The WBA has ordered us to fight within 120 days of May 21st. I am ready, willing and able to fight him and I hope he is ready, too."

Shumenov, 32, has won three fights since losing to Bernard Hopkins in his last true world title fight. And one must ask: if Shumenov does in fact land the Lebedev fight, will he bring a trainer with him this time?

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