Beibut Shumenov is preparing to face Bernard Hopkins, who he calls "superhuman," in what he anticipates will be his "hardest fight" in a Showtime-televised 175-pound title unification contest on April 19 at The D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C.
A 30-year-old native of Kazakhstan now living in Las Vegas, Shumenov (14-1, 9 knockouts) is putting his WBA belt on the line against Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs), his 49-year-old IBF counterpart who told RingTV.com that he will be "itching" for a knockout when they meet.
"I know Bernard. He is one of the greatest champions ever," Shumenov said of Hopkins, whose last stoppage victory was a ninth-round knockout of Oscar De La Hoya in September 2004. "I know that I have never faced anyone like Bernard, and it will be my hardest fight."
In his last fight in October, Hopkins unanimously decisioned Karo Murat in defense of the IBF 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.
Hopkins first set the record at the age of 46 by outpointing Jean Pascal for the WBC’s title in May of 2011 before being dethroned following a majority decision loss to Chad Dawson in May of 2012.
"Since the day I knew that I would fight with Bernard, I have lived and breathed studying his fights. Every time that I watch his fights, I discover something new," said Shumenov. "When you fight Bernard, you have to expect the unexpected. He can use any kind of style. I will have to be prepared to fight against a superhuman."
Hopkins was ringside in December when Shumenov ended an 18-month absence by scoring three knockdowns during a third-round stoppage of Tomas Kovacs for the fifth defense of his belt.
When Shumenov ventures into Washington, D.C., against Hopkins, it will be neither with the intent to be a tourist, nor to lose.
"I have never been to Washington, DC, but right now, I am concentrated and focused on my upcoming fight against Hopkins," said Shumenov.
"I am very excited that the fight is going to happen against one of the greatest fighters ever. It will be great to fight in the capital of the United States of America."