This past weekend fight fans in Russia saw Denis Lebedev (31-2, 23) return to the ring after more than a year of inactivity. The Russian made an easy return to the ring as he stopped Hinzi Altunkaya in 3 rounds.
Following that victory Lebedev mentioned 3 opponents he would like to face off with in his next contest. One of those was Kazakh fighter Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) [Бейбут Шуменов].
According to reports in the Kazakh media there are talks suggesting that Shumenov is the most likely option for Lebedev, with the other two men being Murat Gassiev and Oleksandr Usyk both of whom are likely to look else where with Usyk strongly linked to a fight Tony Bellew.
The team of Lebedev's have stated his next bout would likely come in December or January, and given the availability of the three opponents mentioned it would again suggest that Shumenov would be the best dance partner for the Russian, and a chance for Lebedev to claim the WBA "regular" Cruiserweight title.
Given that Usyk is looking elsewhere and Gassiev has already beaten Lebedev it does seem very logical to have Russian match up against Shumenov, as the Kazakh's are suggesting, and the possibly take the winner towards Gassiev, who would be expected to beat either Lebedev or Shumenov.
(Image courtesy of sports.kz)
Last year former 2-weight world champion Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11) [Бейбут Шуменов], from Kazakhstan., announced his retirement due to issues with his eyes. That retirement seemed like the ideal time for Shumenov to walk away from boxing as an active fighter and help to get him promotional outfit up and running. This year however he announced that his retirement was over and that he was looking to return to the ring. Now that return has been finalised and on July 7th he will be facing off with 30 year old German-Turk Hizni Altunkaya (30-1, 17), in a bout for the vacant WBA Cruiserweight title.
The 34 year old Shumenov began his career in 2007 and was fast tracked to a Light Heavyweight title, winning a hugely controversial decision over Gabriel Campillo for the WBA Light Heavyweight title in his second shot. Ever since that win he has has a somewhat frustrating career, with a string of poor title defenses, against the likes of a shop worn William Joppy, a limited Danny Santiago, and a hopeless Tamas Kovas. After losing the WBA Light Heavyweight title in 2014, to Bernard Hopkins, Shumenov moved up in weight and in May 2016 he would claim the WBA Cruiserweight title to become the first 2-weight world champion from Kazakhstan. It's worth noting that he hasn't fought since that title win, and he'll have been out of the ring for over 24 months byt the time he faces Altunkaya.
As for Altunkaya he made his debut back in October 2008 and was a very well managed fighter, winning his first 29 fights without taking on an opponent of any name recognition. In June 2017 he stepped up in class and was stopped by Krzysztof Glowacki, who forced Altunkaya to retire at the end of round 5, following a very 1-sided contest. Since that loss he has fought once, scoring his 30th win against a no-name foe this past January.
It should be noted that this will be for the WBA's "regular" world title, and not the and not the highest version of the title, which is held by the "Unified" champion Murat Gassiev. Just to muddy the waters even more the WBA have a "champion in recess" in Denis Lebedev and an interim champion, Arsen Goulamirian. Resulting in an astonishing 4 WBA champions!
Also confusingly the current rankings list the inactive Shumenov as the #2 ranked fighter and Altunkaya, who has beaten no one of any note, at #3.
The bout will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, and is expected to show case a number of top Kazakh hopefuls.
Earlier today former 2-weight world champion Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11) [Бейбут Шуменов] held a press conference, and announced a number of interesting things.
The key part of the press conference was that he was ending his retirement, which began last year following a serious eye issue. Today Shumenov stated that the eye injury wasn't the only reason for his retirement, saying he "had some difficulties with my manager, he was overloaded with his own affairs, he could not provide me with the necessary number of fights, so there were long downtimes."
Those managerial issues along with two eye operations and stress saw Shumenov needing to take a break from the ring.
The injury to the eye appears to have been more of a long term one than fans were really aware of, with Shumenov stating he has had issues with his left eye since 2008, and was fighting one eyed back in 2010, before having a serious operation to sort the problem.
In regards to his comeback he stated he was already in negotiations and was plannign to fight later this year, with his longer term plan being to fight for a world title again.
Staying on the subject of long term plans Shumenov told the press that he was looking to open a boxing school in Kazakhstanm to help the future of the sport in the country, and he also hinted at promoting bouts. He told those at the press conference that he doesn't belive KAzakh's fully understand the prestie of professional boxing, which he is hoping to build through his promotional outfit.
(Photo courtesy of Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Earlier this year we saw a WBA Cruiserweight title unification bout between Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11) and hard hitting Cuban Yunier Dorticos (21-0, 20), fall through with Shumenov suffering an eye injury in training for the bout.
It has now been revealed that the eye injury that Shumenov has suffered is much worse than first expected, and rather than bouncing back to the sport he has now decided to retire.
Reports from various sources are that he has damaged the cornea in his right eye and thereis a serious risk of blindness, with a real fear of the Kazakh suffering a detached retina.
Although never the most popular of fighters it's still a shame to see Shumenov's career end like this, however with his financial status secure and a nice family life in America it's really unlikely that he needs boxing. Instead his health, rightfully, comes first.
(Photo by Naoki Fukuda)
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