Boxing: Morilla’s Sunday Report Card – Bernard Hopkins Outsmarts and Outlasts Shumenov

Bernard Hopkins
Geoff Burke USA TODAY Sports

Our resident boxing writer Diego Morilla serves up a full weekend wrap-up of the most relevant boxing events in the worldwide scene. Every fight that matters is right here, in one place, and at one click away. Follow Morilla on Twitter at @MorillaBoxing

Washington, D.C., April 19

Bernard Hopkins SD 12 Beibut Shumenov, IBF/WBA light heavyweight unification

An ageless warrior continues to expand his legacy. Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KO), a fighter who made his debut in 1988, breaks his own record as the oldest champion ever in every one of his title fights, and at 49 years of age he just managed to set the bar even higher in this title unification fight against Kazakhstan’s 30-year-old Shumenov (14-2, 9 KO), in which he outsmarted and occasionally outgunned a guy young enough to be his son on his way to adding the WBA belt to his own IBF trinket to become a unified champion at 175 lbs. The age difference was easily seen in the fighter’s strategy, with Shumenov being overly cautious and throwing sporadic body shots and one-twos with no real danger, and Hopkins doing what he does best: keeping his distance, finding one or more flaws in his foe’s style and applying his attack method of choice accordingly. This time, it was a picture-perfect overhand right, which Hopkins connected almost at will, dictating the rhythm of the fight and cruising to a deserved victory, capped by a knockdown by Hopkins in the 11th round. The two 116-111 scorecards were right on the spot, but Gustavo Padilla’s card of 114-113 for Shumenov was simply impossible to explain. Another milestone for “The Alien”, a fighter that continues to defy the passing of time every single time he steps into the ring.

The winner goes on to: With the current state of affairs in the division, we can totally see Hopkins getting in the ring at the age of 50 for one last fight (quite likely a loss) against Haitian-Canadian power puncher Adonis Stevenson.

Shawn Porter TKO 4 Paulie Malignaggi, IBF welterweight title

A true champion makes his case for bigger things at 147 lbs as he destroys one of boxing’s ultimate survivors. Porter (24-0-1, 15 KO) gave notice of his talents when he upset Devon Alexander to grab his title, but he proved he is poised for greater challenges with this utter destruction of Malignaggi (33-7, 7 KO), a former titlist himself known for his resilience and good boxing skills as much as for his lack of pop and excessive self-promoting abilities. Porter came out storming out of the gates, and he never let go. He was relentless, cutting Malignaggi under his left eye in round one, sending him to the canvas in round two, and hurting him continuously until a barrage of punches in round four sent the challenger to the canvas briefly. He got up to receive a dozen punches that ended up sending him to the mat again a few seconds later, and the referee called a halt to the action without even bothering to complete his count (which he also did in one of the previous knockdowns, inexplicably stopping his protective count at six to call action).

The winner goes on to: Porter, who is now suddenly an official entrant in the Mayweather Sweepstakes, will have to wait a while for his chance to sit at the negotiation table, but performances like this one will surely move his name up in the list.

The loser goes on to: Malignaggi’s last knockdown of the night found him laying on the ring apron and falling over the Showtime broadcasting team’s table, and he will likely complete that transition by retiring to become a full-time commentator for the network.

Peter Quillin UD 12 Lukas Konecny, WBO middleweight title

An impressive fighter in another not-so-impressive win. Quillin (31-0, 22 KO) is a very promising young talent, but somehow he manages to underwhelm his fans with one lackluster performance after the other, or by simply failing to pull the trigger when needed. This time, he retained his belt with a pedestrian unanimous decision against Konecny (50-5, 23 KO), a former welterweight trialhorse equipped with a tough chin and an aggressive attitude, and little else. It was a rout, yes, but it should have been a chance to shine instead of a chance to just another win. The scorecards of 120-108 and 119-109 (twice) failed to reflect Quillin’s unwillingness to step on the gas as much as they failed to reward Konecny’s toughness.

The winner goes on to: With wins like this one, it is unclear whether Quillin will be able to muscle his way to a more lucrative fight. He’ll have to count on his bogus title to lure a big name opponent.

Orlando, Florida, April 19

Gamalier Rodriguez UD 10 Orlando Cruz, featherweights

Minor upset for a fighter who is now further away from his desired history-making championship belt. Cruz (20-4-1, 10 KO) became boxing’s first ever active fighter to declare his homosexuality a couple of years ago, but his dream of becoming a champion was derailed in his only title fight to date. Fighting to earn his way back into the championship picture, he had the misfortune of running into Rodriguez (24-2-3, 16 KO), a highly-regarded contender who surprised Cruz with solid exchanges and a level of activity that the former Puerto Rican Olympian was unable to match. In the end, Cruz dropped a decision by scores of 96-93 and 97-92 (twice) in a setback that puts his entire career in review mode.

The winner goes on to: A title shot was being discussed for the winner, and Rodriguez looked like a serious menace for anyone at 126 and beyond.

Felix Verdejo KO 1 Ivan Zavala, lightweights

You win some, you lose some. Puerto Rico may have lost another contender in Cruz, but the island-state can be sure that another one is gaining stature with every outing. We’re talking about former Olympian Verdejo (12-0, 9 KO), who goes by the appropriate nickname of “The Diamond”. This time, he shone a shade brighter with a brutal 74-second demolition of hopeless Zavala (6-6-1, 2 KO). Not exactly a fighter to measure Verdejo’s progress, but a superb demonstration of his power nevertheless.

The winner goes on to: OK, Felix, we get it: you’re the Next Big Thing in Puerto Rico. Time to prove that by facing a real challenge.

Matt Korobov TKO 6 Emill Gonzalez, middleweights

Surprise!! An old “promise” is back in action. 2008 Russian Olympian and former two-time amateur world champ Matt Korobov (23-0, 14 KO) stayed busy (which should account for something) and unbeaten by pummeling Gonzalez (11-8-1, 8 KO) into submission in a grinding performance, with the opponent du jour quitting after six rounds. Not a bad win, but after 23 fights in almost six years, maybe it’s time to revisit Korobov’s entire approach to his somewhat dormant career, which has been affected by changes in his team and other vicissitudes.

The winner goes on to: Unless he steps up his pace and his level of opposition, Korobov will end up becoming the 160 lb version of Alexander Povetkin, a talented fighter who delayed his title shot until it was too late.

Carlton, Minnesota, April 19

Al Sands KO 9 Keith Barr, cruiserweights

Not a bad scrap at all. Sands (13-1, 12 KO) was the obvious favorite against Barr (12-6, 3 KO), but nothing could have predicted the six knockdowns (mostly on body shots) that accentuated his KO victory at 2:20 of the ninth round. Barr’s defense made it difficult for Sands to get his attack going, but once he found his spots downstairs it was all downhill for Barr. It was great to see Sands making the adjustments and staying calm until he found his way to a solid victory.

The winner goes on to: Sands will have to set the bar (not the “Barr”) higher for himself if he really wants to develop into a serious threat in a dormant division.

Shannon Briggs KO 1 Francisco Mireles, heavyweights

Talk about a “failed reentry” into the ring. The 42-year-old Briggs (53-6, 47 KO) is the last American to hold a portion of the heavyweight title (he held the WBO belt until 2007), and is now staging a comeback that has already seen him score a first-round KO one week ago. And he continued his unlikely return to championship form with another shellacking when he took care of hopeless Mireles (17-9, 5 KOs) in just under 30 seconds with a left hook to the body that sent the Mexican heavyweight (yep, I never expected to see those two words together either) to the canvas to receive the full count on one knee. But the really entertaining moment came when Briggs attempted a top-rope jump into the ring, probably forgetting that he is a 250-lb awkward heavyweight and not some Yemeni-British leopard-print wearing featherweight, thus breaking one of the ring buckles in the process and causing a delay of more than 30 minutes in the entire card. Let’s hope Briggs’ reentry into the heavyweight scene is equally amusing and spectacular, albeit slightly more effective.

The winner goes on to: Two first-round KOs in eight days? Someone’s in a hurry! If Briggs can keep this pace, he could be headed to a serious fight (even a title shot) before the year is over.

Manchester, England, April 18

Scott Quigg KO 2 Tshifhiwa Munyai, WBA “regular” junior featherweight title

A “Quigg” KO, indeed. Munyai (24-3-1, 12 KO) came in as a late replacement and was not supposed to be much of a challenge anyways, but Quigg (28-0-2, 21 KOs) felt like going home early and finished him quickly. A left hook sent Munyai to the canvas at the end of the first round, and a right hand put him back on the deck in the second round. He was being pummeled right after getting up when the referee stopped the bout at the 1:56 mark. Nice win for a fighter who is building a steady following.

The winner goes on to: Lots of opportunities for a talented feather-ish with an entertaining style. Rigo, are you there?

Hammond, Indiana, April 18

Donovan George TKO 6 Troy Lowry, super middleweights

One of the fighters who is putting boxing back on the scene in Chicago just did it again. “Da Bomb” George (25-4-2, 21 KO) had his homecoming against “TNT” Lowry (28-14, 17 KO), hammering the Minnesota fighter with punishing hooks to the body and sending him to the canvas twice (once in the fourth, another one in the sixth) to score a solid win in front of a partisan crowd. George’s trademark back flip signaled the fighter’s return to the victorious path after a 4-4-1 streak since 2011 in which he had tough losses against the likes of Edwin Rodriguez, Adonis Stevenson, and Caleb Truax.

The winner goes on to: Hopefully, George will work his way to a title shot sometime next year if he manages to continue winning.

Monroeville, Pa, April 19

Rod Salka UD 10 Alexei Collado, lightweights

Very entertaining fight between two up-and-coming fighters. In a mild upset, Salka (19-3, 3 KO) defeated a previously unbeaten former amateur standout in Collado (18-1, 16 KO), from Cuba currently residing in Ireland. Avoiding Collado’s bombs, Salka fought an intelligent fight, walking the ring masterfully and earning a hard-fought unanimous decision by scores of 96-94 and 96-93 (twice). A brutal knockdown in the third round set the mood for what became a close but steadily dominant win for a fighter who deserves more attention.

The winner goes on to: Plenty of great challenges at 135 lb for Salka, an entertaining fighter and a serious challenge for any contender out there.

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