Preview/Bettor’s Guide: Hopkins – Shumenov and More!


It is often said in the gambling world and, indeed, it has been repeated in these columns many times, that the oddsmakers know what they are doing.  The odds for this Saturday’s boxing card to be televised on Showtime, however, may have you thinking the opposite is true.  The card, originating from the DC Armory in Washington, DC, features two 2-1 fights when Bernard Hopkins (54-6-2) faces Beibut Shumenov (15-1) in a light heavyweight title unification march and Shawn Porter (23-0-1) defends his IBF welterweight title against Paulie Malignaggi (33-5).  The opening bout of the telecast  has Peter Quillin (30-0) defending the WBO middleweight title against Lucas Konecny (50-4) in a fight with significantly longer odds.

Bovada lists the ageless (well, he is 49) Hopkins at -200 and Shumenov at +165.  These odds seem to suggest that the oddsmakers believe that Hopkins’ age will finally catch up to him.  That must be the case because everything else here suggests otherwise.  The fighters that have given Hopkins, the IBF light heavyweight titlist, trouble are well-schooled, athletic and fast-handed fighters who measure their offense as to not leave much room for counter opportunities.  Names like Roy Jones, Jermain Taylor, Joe Calzaghe and Chad Dawson come to mind.  Shumenov, the WBA “super” titlist, is not that type of fighter.  He is more of a straightforward type of fighter.  While he has good fundamental skills, he does not appear to be an exceptional athlete and certainly does not have the hand speed of the guys who troubled Hopkins.  It should also be noted that while the promoters will certainly try to paint him as an extremely successful Eastern European amateur, and he certainly was a 2004 Olympian from Kazakhstan, he did not win an Olympic medal or an amateur world championship.  As a professional, Shumenov’s only notable “victory” is over Gabriel Campillo in their rematch.  Victory is in quotes because almost every observer felt Campillo won that fight.  This is the same Campillo who beat Shumenov in Kazakhstan in the first fight and was subsequently defeated by Tavoris Cloud and knocked out by Sergey Kovalev and Andrez Fonfara.  Shumenov’s victories were all over fighters who were smaller, past their prime or shot, unknown Europeans or all of the above.  Hopkins’ resume, on the other hand, would take thousands of words to describe his victories over champions and hall of famers.  That experience, combined with the style advantage Hopkins possesses suggests that this more of a mismatch than a 2-1 fight.  Add to all of this that the winner is in line for a big-money further unification against the 175 pound world champion Adonis Stevenson, and that should motivate Hopkins to no end, this fight is very easy to pick… Hopkins is the pick.

The analysis for the other 2-1 fight is exactly the opposite.  While Bovada lists Porter at -250 and Malignaggi at +195, this is a very difficult fight to pick.  In fact, I would argue that this fight screams “pick’em.”  While Porter is coming off a title winning fight against Devon Alexander in what was a great performance, his resume is largely void of notable performances.  Before the Alexander win, he was most known as the undefeated prospect who was held to a draw by a smaller, past-his-prime Julio Diaz and as a past Manny Pacquiao sparring partner.  Malignaggi on the other hand has faced much better oppiosition.  The former two division titilist’s losses are to elite fighters: decision losses to a prime Miguel Cotto, Juan Diaz (a controversial loss that was avenged) and Adrien Broner and stoppage losses to a prime Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan.  Malignaggi is also coming off of a wide decision win against Zab Judah.  However, many cannot shake the memory of Malignaggi getting a hometown decision victory over Pablo Cano.  Indeed, while Malignaggi has good wins at 147 pounds, he has looked more stationary, his lack of punching power is more evident and he looks a lot more vulnerable.  The oddmsakers have taken that into account, in addition to viewing him more as Showtime’s expert commentator than an active boxer, and that is probably why he is listed as the underdog.  That said, his experience is top notch and the motivation of a big fight must weigh on his 33 year old mind more than the younger Porter.  Basically, Porter is going to have to apply extreme pressure and break down the battle tested veteran.  I do not see that happening… Malignaggi is the upset pick. 

It can even be argued that the odds on Quillin – Konecny are not correct.  Bovada lists Quillin at -1600 and Konecny at +800.  You may read that and think Konecny cannot be that much of an underdog.  That is the wrong way to approach this.  The odds should be even longer.  Konecny has no chance.  He has never fought in the United States and is most notable for his run as a 154 pounder on the European level. In that run, there were very few notable names.  Konecny’s most notable victories appear to be 2 wins over Khoren Gevor who is most recognized for being easily dismissed by Arthur Abraham.  Konecny is perhaps best known for his 2 losses when he stepped up to challenge for 154 pound titles: a 2008 decision loss to Serhiy Dzinziruk (known for being knocked out by Sergio Martinez and losing a decision to Sergio Mora) and a 2012 loss to Zaurbek Baysangurov who was once knocked out by Cornelius “K9″ Bundradge.  Konecny is also 35 years old and, with 23 knockouts in 50 wins, does not appear to have much power, especially at 160 pounds.  The last time Quillin fought a “European level fighter,” he won a wide decision over Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam while knocking him down six, yes six, times.  Keep in mind that N’Jikam was undefeated and a natural middleweight.  Quillin also has a decision win over Winky Wright (smaller and on his way to the golf course sure but it was still Winky Wright) and stoppages of Craig McEwan (a bigger fighter), Fernando Guerrero, Gabriel Rosado and Jesse Brinkley.  This bout may not last long… Quillin is the pick.

Author’s Record for the Year: 13-8 (Last week was a disaster of unmitigated proportions.  Bradley did not pull the upset, Felix, Jr. got dominated by Vasquez [in a fight that I knew little about and should serve as a warning to no not pick fights you are uneducated about] and Vargas got a somewhat undeserved decision over Khabib.  Basically, we need to turn it around this week.)

Author’s Record in 2013: 70-24-6

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