SAN ANTONIO — When once-beaten WBA light heavyweight titleholder Beibut Shumenov enters the ring on Saturday against unbeaten Tomas Kovacs, he may not be the main focus of ringside fans of the Showtime-televised event at The Alamodome.
Not with WBA welterweight titleholder Adrien “The Problem” Broner against hard-hitting Marcos Maidana in a main event that will also be supported by a stacked card including WBC junior featherweight beltholder Leo Santa Cruz opposite Cesar Seda, and welterweight Keith “One Time” Thurman facing rugged Jesus Soto Karass.
However, Shumenov (13-1, 8 knockouts), a 30-year-old Kazakhstan native living in Las Vegas, knows that division counterparts such as RING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, WBO beltholder Sergey Kovalev, and IBF titleholder Bernard Hopkins may all be focused on his performance against Kovacs (23-0, 14 KOs).
“If they’re all watching, they’re going to see what level of fighter I am,” said Shumenov, who will end an 18-month absence with the fifth defense of his belt, having last been in the ring for a unanimous decision over Enrique Ornelas in June of 2012.
“I’m not going to reveal all of my strategies, but you will see them. For me, this is a huge fight for having the opportunity to fight on such a huge network, which I always dreamed. I’m going to show that I’m the best light heavyweight champion in the world.”
Shumenov is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions as is Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs), who recently mentioned Shumenov as the first step toward unifying the 175-pound division before January of 2015 when he turns 50.
During that time, Hopkins said he would look to defeat Shumenov before facing the winner of a potential bout between Stevenson (23-1, 20 KOs) and Kovalev (23-0-1, 21 KOs), who are aligned with Showtime’s network rival HBO.
A 48-year-old future hall of famer, Hopkins unanimously decisioned Karo Murat in October in defense of the belt he won by unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Tavoris Cloud in March to extend his own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown.
“I saw that there were interviews that Bernard Hopkins said that he wanted to fight me… I would be honored. He’s really a legendary champion. For me, having the opportunity to be in the same ring, and to fight that level of opposition, I would be honored,” said Shumenov.
“But it’s up to him. If he wants to fight me, I would be honored. But when the bell rings, I’m not just going to be there. I’m going to show the world that I’m the best light heavyweight champion in the world. My goal is not only to win one title or two titles. I’m going to win all of the titles in the light heavyweight division”
Kovacs was last in the ring for a unanimous decision over Said Mbelwa in June.
“I know that I’m in with a tough fighter,” said Shumenov. “He will come forward and he throws a lot of combinations and hard punches. He’s a good fighter, and it will be an exciting fight.”
Photos / Team Shumenov, Emily Harney (Shumenov-Ornelas)
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org