SAN ANTONIO — Although WBA light heavyweight titleholder Beibut Shumenov ended an 18-month absence on Saturday, he showed few signs of rust.
Shumenov (14-1, 9 knockouts) used left hooks to score knockdowns in the first and second rounds, as well as an overhand right that floored Tomas Kovacs (23-1, 14 KOs) in the third, by which time referee Rafael Ramos had seen enough as he stepped in to halt the bout at the 2:55 mark.
The result was a third-round technical knockout for Shumenov, who had last been in the ring for a unanimous decision over Enrique Ornelas in June of 2012.
A 30-year-old Kazakhstan native living in Las Vegas, Shumenov knew that division counterparts such as RING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, WBO beltholder Sergey Kovalev, and IBF titleholder Bernard Hopkins might have been watching his performance against Kovacs.
“For Bernard, I have a lot of respect. I think that it’s mutual. It’s sportsmanship. I couldn’t show all of my abilities because at the beginning, maybe I wasn’t warmed up enough. I couldn’t get closer to him,” said Shumenov.
“He was defensive and moving back. I had to really work hard to create the openings with feints and foot movement. After the second round, I knew I would win. Of course, I’m ready. My goal is to unify the titles, not just to have one fight with another champion.”
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said the unification bout is on for March or April with Hopkins, who told Shumenov, “don’t look that sharp when you fight me.”
Shumenov-Kovacs took place on Saturday’s undercard to a quadrupleheader whose main event featured WBA welterweight tltleholder Adrien Broner against Marcos Maidana.
The card also featured welterweight Keith Thurman vs. Jesus Soto Karass, and junior featherweight beltholder Leo Santa Cruz against Cesar Seda, plus th U.S. degut of junior welterweight Ricardo “Dinamita” Alvarez the 32-year-old brother of former RING junior middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, against Rod Salka.
In the evening’s first bout, three-time Olympian Rau’Shee Warren won his bantamweight bout by unanimous decision over Jose Silveira.
“I am still trying to stay busy. They throw a lot of punches in my lower weight class. I was trying to do something different tonight, you know, throw more combinations,” said Warren. “I was trying to finish strong without rushing the knockout. The body shots were working, but you could tell he’s been around. When you hurt him, he knew how to go into defensive mode.”
Warren is coached by Broner’s trainer, Mike Stafford.
“I want to see him sit down on his punches a little more before we step it up in one or two fights,” said Stafford. “I want to see him get a little busier and to get out of that amateur thing. He’s been an amateur for so long, but he’s coming out of it.”
Lightweight Robert Easter Jr. scored his second consecutive first-round stoppage, and his fourth overall against Hardy M. Paredes, whom he dropped on all fours for the 10-count with a left to the body at the 2:30 mark.
“It was a left body shot, but I had him hurt before that. It just took the body to get him out. That’s always my shot, and any time I turn it over, they’re going down,” said Easter Jr. “The last of my five opponents have gotten knocked down from body shots by me, so, I guess that you can call that my shot.”
In another lightweight bout, Jamel Herring used a straight left hand to score a first-round knockout over Lance Williams, who was coming off a first-round stoppage loss to Easter in September.
“I’m a big lightweight. My goal is to stay at the lightweight division until I win a world title. That’s my goal,” said Herring. “Technically, I’ve got to shorten up my punches, because I’m a little wide on my hooks. I’m working on sitting down on my punches and on my body attack.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com