IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins produced an masterpiece last night at Washington DC's Armory, painting IBF titlist Beibut Shumenov with an array of right hand brushstrokes that made an impression on two of the three judges.
Shumenov's lack of experience against top level opponents mixed with the Hopkins' surplus of the same produced some stunning effects as lethal right hand counters and leads from Hopkins rocketed back the head of Shumenov on many occasions, as the 49 year old former middleweight champion made a mockery of the age advantage held by his 30 year old rival.
The approach of Shumenov made his downfall all but certain; standing directly in front of the quicker Hopkins, left hand hanging down just above his knee, not moving his head and not punching.
When Shumenov did punch, he loaded up, telegraphing his intentions as Hopkins used angles and his still quick reflexes to make most of his rival's efforts hit nothing, proof the old master had once again gotten inside the head of an opponent, eliminating the threat of having to deal with a workable offensive plan.
Hopkins also kept the pace of the fight slow, taking Shumenov's confidence away with withering counters and superbly managing distance.
By the time the WBA titlist tried to ramp up the pace in the eighth round, it was too late as Hopkins thoroughly had the timing of the by now battered and weakened Shumenov's efforts down, hammering the Kazakh native to the canvas with a short overhand right in the eleventh.
Shumenov simply could not solve the endless offensive and defensive variations Hopkins presented and was soundly outboxed. Any time Shumenov did connect, it was rarely flush as Hopkins was in constant motion, riding the effectiveness out of the shots.
When the scores were read, Hopkins swept two of them 116-112 while Shumenov somehow was awarded the third card 114-113.
Hopkins improves to 55-6-2 (32), and now owns the IBF and WBA light heavyweight titles as Shumenov drops to 14-2 (9).
Hopkins will reportedly meet WBC champion Adonis Stevenson should the Canadian get past Andrzej Fonfara next month.
In the two world title bouts on the undercard, IBF welter ruler Shawn Porter, 24-0-1 (15), stopped former two-weight world champion Paulie Malignaggi, 33-6 (7), at 1:14 of the fourth round and WBO middleweight titlist Peter Quillin, 31-0 (22), posted a wide unanimous decision against ex-European titlist Lukas Konecny, 50-5 (23), after 12 rounds.