Earlier today fight fans had the chance to see the WBA crown a 4th concurrent Cruisierweight champion, as Kazakh Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) and German based Turk Hizni Altunkaya (30-2, 17) battled for the frankly ridiculous for the WBA “regular” Cruiserweight title, giving us a WBA Super champion, champion in Recess, Interim champion and now Regular champion.
From the opening round it seemed very clear the men were on very different levels. Shumenov had things his way as he landed a nice flurry about 30 seconds into the bout before going on to drop Altunkaya with a body shot mid-way through the opening round. It looked like we were on for an early finish, but instead the Turk managed to fiddle his way through the round.
From round 2 the bout began to take on a tiresome pattern of Shumenov trying to box and Altunkaya trying to do as little as possible other than survive. The Kazakh showed flashes, as he fought in bursts, but lacked the fire power and intensity to see off Altunkaya. The Turk showed next to nothing of his own, but did survive the bursts with little problem.
The pattern only really changed in round 9, when Shumenov upped the intensity and cornered Altunkaya, dropping him from a flurry of shots. He recovered to his feet but was hammered through much of the round as it was becoming clear he was tired and had mentally given up. To his credit he saw out the round, but was stopped by his corner between rounds 9 and 10.
Despite a 2 year layoff Shumenov looked decent, but really had no one in the opposite corner to test him, and it's unclear as to what Shumenov really has left in the tank. However he is now one of the 4 WBA champions in the division and will likely get some opportunities for a notable fight in the near future.
The past few days have been very busy for fans of the Cruiserweight division with 3 "world" title bouts, all for different versions of the WBA title. The first of those bouts saw Yunier Dorticos score a 10th round TKO win over Youri Kayembre Kalenga, in a FOTY contender, to claim the "interim" title, the following day Denuis Lebedev became the "Super" champion as he unified the WBA title with the IBF title, stopping Victor Emilio Ramirez in 2 rounds. Later on Saturday saw a third WBA title fight in the space of around 27 hours.
This time it was the "regular" title on the line with Kazakh Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11) facing Junior Anthony Wright (15-2-1, 12), in a bout that was put together on less than a week's notice and seemed to be one of the many jokes that the WBA have given us in recent weeks. It was made with a late notice that the bout missed out on TV coverage and was essentially a joke title bout, especially given the other two title bouts.
Despite being a "joke title fight", the bout it's self looked like a good one on paper, between two heavy handed, talented but flawed fighters, both looking to score a noteworthy win. Thankfully the bout proved to be just as good in the ring as it looked on paper.
The fight started well for Shumenov who used his unorthodox boxing to make Wright look out classed, until round 5 when the American fighter dropped Shumenov with a very solid shot. Sadly for Wright however that was a rare moment of success and in round 8 Shumenov twice dropped Wright, who was beginning to have the bout go all his way.
Wright seemed to bounce back from the knockdowns well, but a third knockdown, in round 10, saw his corner immediately throw in the towel to give Shumenov the win.
Sadly for the Kazakh it would seem likely that he will now have to face either Dorticos or Lebedev, who are both likely to really hurt Shumenov if the bouts are made later this year.
Some fights flat out suck and when a fighter is called BJ it should come as no shock when he's involved in a really, really, sucky fight. That was the case on Saturday night in the US when Kazakhstan's Beibut Shumenov (16-2, 10) took on the hapless, and genuinely terrible, BJ Flores (31-2-1, 20). The bout didn't just suck, but it showed how inept both men were as they made for a poor excuse for a WBA “interim” Cruiserweight title contest.
Early on Flores looked the bigger man and looked like the boss as he came forward, landed hard looking right hands and looked like the boss. For the first 2 rounds Flores looked like he was going to make this very easy for himself and seemed like he was simply going to be too strong for the Kazakh.
In round 3 the fight changed with Shumenov using intelligent movement and making Flores look like an imbecile. The American plodded forward, trying to land single right hands but being made to look like a total novice. It was the change in the fight that really became rather telling as Flores, a supposed “expert analyst”, didn't seem to have any idea of how to answer the movement of Shumenov.
The movement of the Kazakh saw him claim round 4 to level up, if not secure the lead, in the fight.
Through the middle of the fight things swung from one way to another but on the whole it seemed like we had a runner versus a plodder. Shumenov was running, he wasn't hiding it and he wasn't trying to make it the basis of much offense, instead preferring single shots. Flores on the other hand plodded around the ring looking lost. Every so often Shumenov would slow down, Flores would land a couple of solid looking right hands, and take the round but neither man managed to create much momentum.
Going in to the final third it was really close. We, like the PBC announcers, had the bout even after 8 and it really was all to play for. Then we saw Shumenov dominate with his movement whilst Flores did nothing other than plod. The offense, from both, was minimal for the final 4 rounds but Shumenov seemed to be comfortably the more aggressive man, whilst also being the more negative, Flores plodded but threw little, showing his ineptitude at cutting off the ring.
Going in to the final round it was clear Flores was behind and even his corner seemed to know it as they instructed him to cut the ring. Amazingly Flores admitted what was clear and that he didn't know what to do, as he asked “how?”, as in “how do I cut the ring off?” By then it was pointless in asking, he had thrown away 3 key rounds by plodding and following Shumenov, rather than cutting the ring off. Even with his trainer's instructions before round 12, he showed no real ability to cut the ring and even lost that round as well.
Although it had been competitive, yet dull, through 8 rounds, the final 4 were clear with Flores doing nothing through them as he lost by scores of 116-112 on all 3 cards.
After the fight Shumenov seemed to indicate that his relationship with trainer Ismael Salas has become a good one, Flores however acted like a spoilt brat and complained about the tactics used by Shumenov. It was clear that whilst Shumenov wasn't “exciting” but the complaining by Flores after the bout made him seem little more than a whiny child, and one who really needs to understand the sport than he has been involved in for most of his life.
Whilst Shumenov is now the WBA “interim” Cruiserweight champion it was obvious that he wasn't a world class Cruiserweight and he should be all he can to avoid the “regular” champion Denis Lebedev, who really would chew him up and spit out if the two were to ever meet.
When we talk about living legends in the world of boxing few can rival the 49 year old Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2-2, 32) who once again showed his skills and class as he became the oldest boxer in history to unify world titles as he unified the IBF and WBA "Super" titles at Light Heavyweight.
Hopkins, fighting against Kazakhstan's Beibut Shumenov (14-2, 9), was masterful in a display that may not have been hugely exciting but was the perfect example of what skills can do in the ring.
The fight started slow. It started very slowly. The first 4 rounds saw very little action from either man and could well have gone either way. We, like we expect many others, had it even through 4 rounds with neither man having assumed control. It could have been 40-40 with each of the rounds scored evenly such was the lack of action.
From round 5 we began to see Hopkins go through the gears. He went from not throwing a great deal to landing at will with either his jab, his left hook or, more regularly, the straight right hand that tattooed Shumenov's face time and time again. It was clear that Hopkins was now in charge and Shumenov had no answer. Early on, when nothing was happening, things were even but with Hopkins letting his hands go it really wasn't even close.
Through rounds 6, 7 and 8 it became more and more one sided as Hopkins manage to evade what little Shumenov threw as the Kazakh seemed to spend too much time waiting and not enough time working. It was incredibly frustrating to to watch Shumenov, who usually lets combinations go, fight in such a restrained way. It seemed that he had picked the wrong tactics and been lulled into Hopkins's pace of bout, it was a double whammy and Kazakh simply couldn't adapt as the fight began to slip away from him.
Round 9 finally saw Shumenov letting some combinations go. Unfortunately it wasn't as much a change in tactics but more a feeling of desperation as the Kazakh began to realise his reign as world champion was coming to an end. Unfortunately for Shumenov it was too little too and much of the work was easily avoided and countered by Hopkins who saw much of the assault coming and fired back with solid shots in return. A similar pattern followed in round 10 as the desperation got ramped up again and Hopkins became even more dominant with his counters. It starting to look like a genuine schooling by Hopkins who looking like a teacher to the powerful but limited Shumenov.
Going in to the championship rounds it was obvious that Shumenov was going to need knock downs to cut down the difference on the scorecards. Surprisingly though it was Hopkins who would score a knockdown in round 11 as he effectively put the bout beyond any doubt. Hopkins didn't seem satisfied with just the knock down however and instead tried to end Shumenov's fight with some follow up shots after Shumenov got to his feet. The Kazakh saw off the storm but by then it was merely a question of whether or not Shumenov would make it through the final round.
The 12th was mostly a continuation of the previous round as Hopkins made Shumenov pay for his lack of speed, his poor defence, which included his left hand being kept low through the entire fight, and his lack of work rate. It seemed at one point that Hopkins rattled Shumenov though soon afterwards he let Shumenov off the hook, preferring to stick his tongue and pull faces rather than trying to close the show.
With Hopkins bossing much of the bout through the middle and later rounds the decision seemed an obvious one. At best you could have made a case for 5 rounds to Shumenov, and that was being polite, though with the knockdown against him and at least 7 rounds going to Hopkins there was no doubting the winner...or was there...
When it came to the the scorecards Jimmy Lennon Jr was forced to read that the bout had been scored a split decision. The first scorecard was 116-111 to Hopkins, about what we'd had it, the second however was a mysterious and frighteningly bizarre 114-113 card in Shumenov. Thankfully 2 of the judges got the right guy with the third card reading 116-111 in favour of Hopkins who made a comment about the judges before talking up a potential bout with the hard punching Adonis Stevenson and claiming he wanted to clean up the Light Heavyweight division.
Whilst Hopkins may dream of cleaning up the titles at 175lbs he is unlikely to be able to claim the WBO belt as WBO world champion Sergey Kovalev is signed to rival network HBO and this would prevent a Kovalev/Hopkins bout. It's unfortunate but that bout is likely to go down as one of those classic "what would have happened if..." bouts. One thing is for sure, Kovalev wouldn't have been as tame as Shumenov was here with the Kazakh effectively giving his belts to Hopkins due to his incredible low out put which suited Hopkins down to the ground.
For what it's worth, Asianboxing.info scored the bout 117-110 Hopkins
(Image courtesy of http://www.goldenboypromotions.com)
Whilst we all want world champions to be active and defending their belts on a regular basis this isn't always possible. For whatever reason Kazakhstan's Light Heavyweight Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9) has been one of those inactive champions. The WBA "super" Light Heavyweight champion, for whatever reason, had been inactive for 18 months. Despite the long lay-off though Shumenov was still regarded as a top Light Heavyweight and thankfully we saw why as he made his return to action this weekend.
Fighting little known Tamas Kovacs (23-1, 14), who entered the bout as the WBA's #14 ranked contender, the bout was seen as a mismatch from the off. Despite the fact it was a mismatch it was also clearly a chance to give Shumenov a showcase bout on Showtime under new promoter Golden Boy Promotions. It was a chance to also shake off the ring rust and give Showtime their own Light Heavyweight fighter having seen rival network HBO establish 2 of their own in the past 12 months.
Unfortunately the bout proved to be every bit the mismatch that people thought it would be.
Kovacs started well, but by started well we mean he had a good first 30 seconds. Within a minute Shumenov had began to find his rhythm, timing and by the end of the round he was not looking like a man who had been inactive for more than a year. If anyone was looking rusty it was Kovacs who was dropped very late in the round by a left hook.
For Kovacs the first round was probably his best, or rather Shumenov's worst. The second round saw Shumenov going up a gear and he dropped Kovacs again, this time with a lovely left uppercut that had a delayed reaction. It was clear the men were in completely different leagues in terms of skills and power.
With Shumenov knowing he was in total control he went out for round 3 looking for the perfect shot. He was waiting for a bomb and although he did take one or two in the round he knew he was going to get a chance to drop Kovacs for a third time. That chance came earlier than some would have expected as Shumenov dropped Kovacs for a third time with a powerful straight right. This time the referee wasn't willing to let Kovacs go on. It had only taken 3 rounds but Shumenov had managed to make a statement.
It seemed that Showtime were trying to push a bout between to Shumenov and IBF champion Bernard Hopkins. In all honesty we'd expect Hopkins to win that one if it gets made but unfortunately Shumenov's options are quite limited. It appears that Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson, Lucien Bute and Jean Pascal are all tied up with HBO, Shumenob however is, as mentioned, a Showtime fighter. We hope that Shumenov can get good fights but it's clear that the best fights out there aren't going to be there for Shumenov, at least in the short term. Hopkins would be one option another would be WBA "regular" champion Juergen Braehmer but apart from those fights it's hard to see an interesting option for Shumenov.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.