In the days prior to December's third-round stoppage victory over previously unbeaten Tomas Kovacs, WBA light heavyweight titleholder beltholder Beibut Shumenov said he would be honored to face IBF counterpart Bernard Hopkins
Hopkins was ringside with Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer at The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, when Shumenov dropped Kovacs three times during a win that ended his 18-month ring absence. Schaefer said Shumenov (14-1, 9 knockouts) could get his wish to face Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs) as early as March 29 or April 19.
"[Shumenov] understands what it takes to be No. 1 since he has a title belt around his waist, whether justified or not. So he's gotten a taste of what it means to be a champion," Hopkins, who turned 49 on Jan. 15, said of the 30-year-old Shumenov.
"To me, when a guy is young and strong and has nice height on him, then you can't underestimate a guy like that. You can't underestimate a guy who wants to be the first one to put Bernard Hopkins seriously on his ass for good, and that's a tall order."
Hopkins was last in the ring for October's unanimous decision over Karo Murat after having dethroned previously unbeaten Tavoris Cloud by unanimous decision in March of last year to extend his own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown.
"Plain and simple: I'm still relevant in the sport of boxing. If you're successful at beating me, then you can become a superstar overnight," said Hopkins.
"If you beat Benard Hopkins, and you beat him significantly, then I'm your commercial to super stardom. I could be a ticket for a guy going to the vault, financially, when it comes to the big pay days."
That was the case for Dawson, even though he suffered a 10th-round stoppage to RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward and a first-round KO to RING light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson in September of 2012 and June of 2013, respectively.
"I'm old school, so I believe that since Adonis Stevenson beat the man who beat the man, then he is the guy, and for me, there are a lot of risks at this point in my career," said Hopkins.
"Like, is this the time where Bernard Hopkins — to the people watching — looks like he can't do this any more. I actually have a fan base against me as to whether I can still do it or not. I think that there is that curiosity. So in 2014, I want to turn another page in my life, and I want to prove that I can still do it."