Five keys for Bernard Hopkins
Plotting a path to victory in Saturday's title bout against Beibut Shumenov
One year shy of turning 50, light heavyweight titlist Bernard "The Alien" Hopkins returns to action Saturday looking to become the oldest champion to unify world titles in boxing history.
Where: DC Armory, Washington D.C.
When: Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET
The future Hall of Famer, 49, headlines a tripleheader at Washington's DC Armory (Showtime, 9:30 p.m. ET) when he faces fellow titlist Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs) of Kazakhstan, who looks himself to unify titles in the 175-pound division in just his 16th professional fight.
Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs) will face an opponent with little experience but a whole lot of punch, in a battle in which he should take into account the following keys if he wants to continue making history:
|What advice can you give an athlete of almost 50 whose body works as if he is 20 years younger? To continue doing what he has always done and enjoy it like the first time. Hopkins should look to land counter shots, dart in at times to land combination quick combinations and do his best to win the mental battle -- which has become his calling card. Hopkins also shouldn't hesitate to clinch whenever his younger opponent manages to cut off the ring or corner him.|
It's good to be in the middle
|Shumenov is a robotic opponent who relies completely on the speed with which he releases his power shots. He is also there to be hit defensively. This was how Gabriel Campillo managed to defeat him in their first fight and how he got him into trouble in the rematch, which Shumenov won by a controversial split decision. Hopkins should follow the same path. Straight blows and hooks up the middle is another alternative to dominate Shumenov.|
|Against a vertical opponent like Shumenov, Hopkins must rely more than ever on his lateral movements and walk around the ring with discretion. Given this scenario, it wouldn't hurt to manage his energy in order to go the distance with the same pace. Hopkins is an expert fighter at scoring points, and he does this with his excellent physical condition, an area in which he never fails.|
|Shumenov doesn't move a lot, and that allows him to sit down on his punches, which improves his power. What's more, he can knock you out with either hand. This was how he sent Tamac Kovacs to the canvas several times before knocking him out in his last fight. Hopkins should be very careful with that firepower and simply can't stay for long on the ropes and should never be overconfident. It could cost him dearly.|
The secret is in his corner
|With a champion soon to reach half a century of existence, the presence of a trainer in his corner looks almost decorative. Naazim Richardson has said on more than one occasion that being in Hopkins' corner is being a part of a unique history. He enjoys his role. But beware -- if things get complicated and old Bernard gets into trouble, the fresh and younger Richardson will need to draw a rabbit from his hat to keep the legend going.|
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