At the DC Armory in Washington, D.C., Showtime championship boxing featured a night of title fights and lots of action. The co-main event of the card featured a clash between IBF welterweight champion, Shawn ‘Showtime’ Porter (22-0-1, 14 KO) and Paulie Malignaggi (33-6, 7 KO). Both men came into the fight riding impressive victories. Malignaggi was coming off a win over Zab Judah, while Porter was coming off his title winning fight with Devon Alexander.
The bout started very quickly with both fighters not looking for any sort of feeling out process. Early in round one, Malignaggi received a cut under the eye from a crisp jab by the unbeaten Porter. Rounds 2 and 3 saw both men going toe to toe, with Porter landing the heavier shots. ‘Showtime’ Porter was bringing a very high paced, physical attack and surprisingly Paulie engaged in the affair.
The end would start early in the 4th round as Porter kept pushing forward and landed a clubbing right hand on the side of Malignaggi’s head which sent him to the canvas. It was clear that ‘The Magic Man’ was just not able to deal with the strength of Porter, as he got up he attempted to clinch – but it was too late. Shawn Porter instantly swarmed Malignaggi and landed a hard combination against the ropes which sent the Brooklyn boxer to the floor once more – this time forcing the referee to wave off the action. Porter TKO 4.
With the win over Malignaggi, Porter finds himself in a unique position in the welterweight division and could have some interesting options going forward. A promotional free agent, Porter can fight for either network, and if ‘Showtime’ can get by his mandatory obligation in England’s Kell Brook, he might find himself in the running to land a potential Manny Pacquiao fight in the fall. Porter, who served as a sparring partner for Pacquiao in the past has grown a lot in recent years, and after his career best performance tonight, those big fights are not too far off in his future.
In the main event, former undisputed middleweight champ and current light heavyweight champ, Bernard ‘Alien’ Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KO) would face IBF light heavyweight champion, Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9 KO) in a title unifying bout.
The fight started off in a very slow pace, which clearly favored the 49 year old Hopkins. Neither man wanted to over commit to any big punch, so both worked on the outside for the first round. Round 2 and 3 saw both men open up their attack slightly, Hopkins attempted to land a lead right cross but didn’t connect cleanly. Shumenov had a slightly higher work rate and it could be argued that he could have taken some of the early 3 rounds.
The 4th round was pivotal in the fight, as it set the pace for the remainder of the bout, with Hopkins landing cleaner shots and fending off any attacks from Shumenov. The main shot that Hopkins was landing was a quick right cross, which often times he would throw as a lead punch. In round 5 he gave Beibut Shumenov the first real taste of his power with the lead right.
The next rounds followed a similar trajectory. Beibut’s attacks became predictable and he left openings which ‘The Alien’ exploited, landing counter shots and rolling off any danger that came his way. There was no doubt of who was commanding the fight.
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the fight came in the 11th round when Bernard Hopkins used a jab to set up a perfect, short straight right which knocked Shumenov off his feet. Hopkins – who had not scored a knockout since 2004 – sensed an opening, but did not get reckless. Later in the round Hopkins launched a left hook which stunned Beibut, but he was unable to get his 33rd career KO.
As the 12th round approached, Hopkins was clearly way ahead in terms of points and just needed to ride out the round to seal off the win – which he did. He closed the night by doing more of what he had done for he vast part of the fight, and that out boxing Beibut Shumenov and showing that his skills are still sharp at age 49.
In a fight that was seemingly one sided, there was some drama in the end, as Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced to the crowd that there was a split decision, and one judge, Gustavo Padilla inexplicably had a score of 114-113 for Beibut Shumenov. The card was over ruled by the other judges that both had it 116-111, and Bernard Hopkins secured his 55th win of his historic career.
At age 49 Bernard Hopkins is living proof what a person can do when they truly master their craft, and while he does not have the same speed and reflexes that he had in his first reign as champion, he is without a doubt a better fighter today, than he was in his “prime.” The future for Hopkins is looking as bright as ever, as he has won over the boxing fans, and is looking at yet another unification fight in the fall against Adonis Stevenson. He might be on the verge of being AARP eligible, but that doesn’t mean he is anywhere near the end, after this Saturday night he is not even close.