Bernard Hopkins won the IBF middleweight title in Landover, Md., nearly 19 years ago to the day. He defended it 20 times, going undefeated for more than a decade. Hopkins, now a 49-year-old IBF light heavyweight beltholder, has twice eclipsed the record for being the oldest man to win a major title.
When you have accomplished in boxing all that Hopkins has, there is simply no room for nerves.
"To me, there are no butterflies," Hopkins said during a Wednesday workout at The Bald Eagle Recreation Center in Southwest, D.C. "I'm eager, but it's controlled for that moment to come and then we'll have the fireworks. That's the good part about it. I'm on stage, and as any entertainer loves the stage, you love the attention."
Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 knockouts) will face WBA counterpart Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs) as the headliner of a Showtime-televised tripleheader on Saturday at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C.
Hopkins-Shumenov will include a welterweight bout between IBF beltholder Shawn Porter and Paulie Malignaggi and WBO middleweight titlist Peter Quillin's defense against Lukas Konecny starting at 9 p.m., ET/PT.
A 7:00 p.m. on Showtime Extreme broadcast will showcase Brooklyn-based fighters Sadam Ali and Zachary Ochoa, who are a welterweight and junior welterweight, respectively, as well as 2012 Olympian light heavyweight Marcos Browne of Staten Island, N.Y.
"Washington, D.C. is the nation's capital. This is part of the foundation of East Coast boxing," said Hopkins, a native of Philadelphia. "So when you talk about D.C., you also say Philly and New York. There's rich tradition, and it's all about history here."
After winning the 160-pound title from Segundo Mercado on April 29, 1995 and mounting a run that ended with a split decision loss to Jermain Taylor on July 16, 2005, Hopkins wants to achieve similar accolades at 175 pounds, with a potential bout against RING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson perhaps later this year.
"Shumenov wants to make a name for himself by defeating me," said Hopkins. "All the young guns want to make it big, and beating me would do that for Shumenov, but that's not going to happen."
Shumenov dethroned Gabriel Campillo by split decision in January of 2010, avenging a loss by majority decision in their previous fight in August of 2009. Shumenov established a title record for the light heavyweight division by defeating Campillo in just his 10th professional bout before making the first defense in July of 2010 with a unanimous decision over Vyacheslav Uzelkov, who had knocked out Campillo in 2007.
In December, Shumenov ended an 18-month absence to score one knockdown each in the first, second and final rounds of a third-round stoppage over Tamas Kovacs for the fifth defense of his belt.
"I'm feeling great, most of the work has been done. I cannot wait to show what I am capable of. To show the world that I am the best light heavyweight in the world," said Shumenov. "I haven't missed any days of training. Every day after my workout my body was exhausted and the next day I was always excited to go to the gym. Every day was valuable for me. Every day I saw improvement. It made me happy to go to the gym."
A 33-year-old former two-division titleholder, Malignaggi (33-5, 7 KOs) will be in his eighth consecutive 147-pound bout since rising from 140, while Porter (23-0-1, 14 KOs), a 26-year-old former sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao, has fought as high as junior middleweight in the past.
"Paulie is a good fighter, he's skillful, crafty and smart," said Porter. "I have everything it takes to beat him. I'm just as fast, just as quick. We're going to go after him Saturday night."
Malignaggi rose from a second-round knockdown to score a unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Zab Judah in his last fight in December. The "Magic Man's" victory came on the heels of a split-decision loss last June to Adrien Broner, who dethroned Malignaggi as WBA 147-pound titlist.
"Shawn Porter is a young, hungry guy who wants to make his mark on the sport, but I'm in his way. He's aggressive. He's got a certain physicality, but we'll be ready for him."
Quillin (30-0, 22 KOs) is making his inaugural visit to the nation's capitol, as is Konecny (50-4, 23 KOs), whom Quillin confesses to know very little about.
"What do I know about my opponent? I know he's bald and that he's from the Czech Republic. I also know he has a white hat on today and that he didn't want to say 'hello' to me," said Quillin, who shared training quarters with Konecny on Wednesday at Bald Eagle.
"This is a business, and when you get out of the ring, you're going to get your check. There's nothing emotionally involved in that. I just know that I'm coming here to handle business. I've been in there working on my ability and showing what I can do. Nobody can beat me."
A 35-year-old former title challenger who never has been stopped, will be making his debut on American soil, having fought mostly in his home country, the Czech Republic.
"I expect a first class fight. He's a good champion, but not a great one. I want to take the belt home with me," said Konecny. "I'm training twice a day, like I've done for over 20 years. I've got a lot of experience. I've been watching his fights with my trainer, and I think we have a great plan."
FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. HUMBLED, GRATEFUL AND THANKFUL TO FANS
Floyd Mayweather Jr. "is grateful' and 'thankful to the fans" whose support made him the highest-paid athlete in 2013, according to ESPN The Magazine's annual Top 25 list.
"He's extremely humbled," said Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe. "It's a great feeling. We have a wonderful team, and he's very grateful for all of the support from the fans who have helped in to be in this position."
Mayweather's base salary of $73.5 million over the course of his unanimous decision victories against Robert Guerrero and Canelo Alvarez, pushing him far ahead of Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo with $50.2 million.
"At the end the day…what it comes down to…at this level…you're trying to do is to maximize every opportunity that's possible with every fight as it relates to the revenue," said Ellerbe. "We have a wonderful team, and Floyd is truly grateful and blessed and he's very thankful to the fans."
Mayweather pocketed a guaranteed $32 million when he vanquished Guerrero in May of last year, and a career-high $41.5 million purse for September's win over Alvarez, the latter of which grossed an all-time record $150 million.
Mayweather's purse against Guerrero matched what he received for a unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto in May 2012, a bout for which the boxer netted a total of $45 million.
It was back in May of last year that Sports Illustrated that Mayweather would be the highest paid athlete over the past two years, having parlayed that into a successful promotional company named for him.
An online report by Forbes Magazine estimated that Mayweather’s exclusive six-fight agreement with Showtime — his third in the deal being a May 3 clash with Marcos Maidana – could be worth a guaranteed $250 million to Mayweather, who made his first-ever appearance on Showtime Pay Per View when he beat Guerrero.