In the opening bout of Showtime’s final Championship Boxing broadcast for 2013, Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9 knockouts) was set to face little-known Tamas Kovacs (23-1, 14 knockouts) in a light heavyweight contest for Shumenov’s belt. Originally slated to headline the preliminary portion of the undercard, Shumenov looked to make the most of the added exposure that comes with being part of the main-card broadcast, and he certainly took advantage.
Following an 18 month-long layoff, Shumenov came out tentatively as he sought to establish his range while also utilizing his stiff jab. Clearly not the patient type, Kovacs responds with his own hard jab which immediately puts Shumenov on the alert.
As the round continues, Shumenov begins alternating the jab between the head and body of Kovacs in an effort to not only break him down, but to ward off his continuous clinch attempts. Both fighters begin to grow anxious as the final moments of the round tick down and these lead to some wild exchanges that mostly miss their mark by both fighters. It wasn’t until the finally seconds of the round that Shumenov managed to catch Kovacs eagerly coming, and dropped him with a snapping left hook.
Smelling blood, Shumenov proceeds to answer the start to the next round by once again attacking the body of his opponent. Kovacs was determined to counter for a while, but did little with the few opportunities which presented themselves as Shumenov quickly took advantage and began to time his opponent. Shumenov proceeds to corner Kovacs, and unleashes a glancing left hook that still managed to put Kovacs on his knees.
At the start of the third, Shumenov was doing his best to not waste his shots against his often feinting opponent. Kovacs comes forward and really pushes the pace in hopes of inciting some sloppy response from Shumenov, but instead Shumenov manages to keep his composure while still keeping Kovacs along the ropes.
Shumenov eventually begins resorting to that snapping jab from earlier and follows it up with a right cross that is landing with some consistency. Eventually Shumenov catches a retreating Kovacs with a lunging right cross that sends him crashing to the mat and signals an end to the bout.
Shumenov may have scored an impressive stoppage, but there’s no ignoring the fact that everyone expected him to win that fight easily. Shumenov remains rather unproven especially compared to some of the light heavyweight division’s other champions, and this is undoubtedly why Bernard Hopkins is campaigning so hard with a fight for him next. With his opposition certainly leaving a lot to be desired up to this point, a fight with Hopkins will be a good move just to finally determine just how good of a champion Shumenov really is. Until that fight is made however, Shumenov has a target on his back as the weakest champion in a talent-rich division.