"A lot of people don't understand our sport and they don't understand that 30 in boxing is old. That's an old fighter at 30. This guy is ancient. You have to sit back and realize how impressive this is. I hope that we can appreciate this guy while he's here. He's here and this is a special situation for him. Every single thing this man does in this sport is history. Every press conference he has, every mouthpiece he puts in his mouth, every bottle of water you give him. Everything he does in this sport now is absolute history and we're a part of it."
Said Stephen Espinoza, who runs Showtime Sports and is an unabashed Hopkins fan, "The word icon is used quite a bit -- thrown about very casually -- within sports, within entertainment and music. Bernard is one of the few personalities, the few athletes where the term accurately applies.
"He is a legend in the sport. His accomplishments speak for themselves. Anytime Bernard fights it is an event, it's an occasion, and 'History at the Capitol' [the name of the fight] is a very accurate term."
In Saturday's co-feature, welterweight titlist Shawn Porter (23-0-1, 14 KOs), 26, of Akron, will make the first defense of his belt when he faces former two-division titleholder Paulie Malignaggi (33-5, 7 KOs), 33, of Brooklyn, N.Y. In the opening bout of the tripleheader, middleweight titlist Peter Quillin (30-0, 22 KOs), 30, of New York, will make his third defense by facing Lukas Konecny (50-4, 23 KOs), 35, of the Czech Republic.
When Philadelphia's Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs) is preparing for a fight, he is usually very intense, often with some sort of some chip on his shoulder about a perceived slight that he uses for motivation. But as he has gotten older, Hopkins has mellowed, at least by B-Hop standards.
So as he approaches the fight with the 30-year-old Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs), a 2004 Olympian from Kazakhstan who lives in Las Vegas and was 5 when Hopkins turned pro, Hopkins has been a bit reflective and is even having fun.
"Everything I do is history," he said. "If you had one more chance to see something that you loved before you never see it again, here I am. You'll have a chance to see history," said Hopkins, who is doing what he is doing at an advanced age without a whiff of involvement in performance-enhancing drugs. "You can tell your grandkids. I'm still having fun. That's the thing that a lot of us miss. I'm having more fun now than when I was in the middle or beginning of my career.
"There were a lot more things I had to go through in my life, but I'm having more fun now than I had in the last 16 years. Since about 40 years old, we're talking nine years later. It's a big deal. I don't want to downplay it.
"Name another athlete in this country that is doing it at this age and winning, not just competing, but fighting the top fighters in the world. This guy [Shumenov] is no run-of-the-mill guy. He's a threat. I'm not fighting a cream puff. This isn't a bum-of-the-month club. I'm fighting real dudes. These guys are hard-core, hungry and top contenders."
Shumenov is indeed a "real dude." He won a world title in his 10th fight and has made five defenses, although none against an elite opponent. He has vast respect for Hopkins, although Shumenov's goal is to win and etch a legendary name on his resume.