Bernard Hopkins had just gone 12 rounds to become the oldest fighter to unify major boxing world titles, but his face showed virtually no wear. Missing were the bruises, welts and puffiness that often accompany blows to the head, largely because Hopkins had ducked and dodged with the agility of an athlete in the prime of his youth.
At 49, the IBF light heavyweight champion added the WBA belt by beating Beibut Shumenov via split decision in the wee hours of Sunday morning at the D.C. Armory, and his clean profile underscored his Kazakhstani opponent’s failed attempts to land punches.
It also compelled Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 knockouts) to say he’s far from done in the ring. His next milestone is to wrest the World Boxing Council belt from Adonis Stevenson, whose next fight takes place in late May in his home country of Canada. If Stevenson can beat Andrzej Fonfara, a title unification bout against Hopkins could yield a handsome payday for all parties.
“I mean, look at me,” Hopkins said during an impromptu news conference on press row after the fight. “I’m 49 years old. Do I have a blemish?”
Hopkins was mostly diplomatic in fielding questions about the split decision in which two judges awarded him the outcome with scores of 116-111 and a third gave it to Shumenov, 114-113, even though by all accounts Hopkins was the superior fighter over at least the final eight rounds. Hopkins’s team wasn’t as gracious.
Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer sharply criticized judge Gustavo Padilla’s scorecard in favor of Shumenov (14-2, nine KOs), using choice expletives when asked about the result. Hopkins is a member of Golden Boy’s stable of fighters, which includes some of the most recognized names in the sport.
“I’m speechless,” Schaefer said. “That’s another judge who should retire. No question about it.”
Said Hopkins: “C’mon, you all know what it is. I don’t want to damn our sport. You all know better than I do. What am I going to do, talk about it and scream and all that? I mean, you know that’s ridiculous, but at the same time I’ll let you all do that instead of me complaining.”
Hopkins has fought five times in or around the District. During his middleweight reign, he defended the title 20 times, with two of those fights in the area.
Schaefer indicated Hopkins’s winning ledger and fervent fan support in the area may entice Golden Boy to bring the future Hall of Famer back to the District to face Stevenson should that matchup become a reality.
Schaefer also mentioned Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Canada as other potential sites for Hopkins vs. Stevenson.
“We’re going to go where we can make the most money,” Schaefer said.