WASHINGTON - Bernard Hopkins may very well box through his 50th birthday or, at the least, within several weeks or days of it. His ultimate goal is to become the undisputed light heavyweight champion this year, and then, in a perfect world, he would like to drop down for a blockbuster fight against the undefeated Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr.
It would be billed "50-50," Hopkins said, one 50 to mark his age, the other to signify Mayweather approaching a record-setting 50 unbeaten bouts.
"That'd be huge," Hopkins said early yesterday morning, the just obtained, black World Boxing Association belt wrapped around his waist. "I would love to do that, but let me get past [Adonis] Stevenson because you know he can punch."
Stevenson and a chance at the World Boxing Council belt are likely next for Hopkins, who over the weekend ensured his name yet another place in the record books. The 49-year-old from North Philadelphia defeated Beibut Shumenov to become the oldest boxer to unify world championships and break his already twice-set record as the oldest to win a title bout.
Confident and relaxed in front of the D.C. Armory crowd - "I was so in my living room watching Archie Bunker," he said - Hopkins had his way with the 30-year-old from Kazakhstan. Utilizing his 26 years of experience and sharp boxing IQ, "The Alien" deflected punches, took advantage of the holes in Shumenov's defense and effectively used body shots to set up his power punches. Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 knockouts), who connected at an impressive 49 percent clip (1 percent for each year of his life), used a straight right to drop his opponent in the 11th round.
The victory came via split decision. Shockingly, Gustavo Padilla, of Panama, scored the 12-round match in favor of Shumenov, 114-113, awarding him three rounds the two other judges gave to Hopkins. Jerry Roth and Dave Moretti each scored the match, which started late Saturday and ended after midnight, 116-111.
Even those scores, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said, weren't lopsided enough.
"Absolutely amazing," he said of Hopkins' latest accomplishment. "[He] keeps on turning back the clock, making history; clearly the best light heavyweight, no question about it . . . Fight after fight he turns in these performances against guys who could be his son."
Hopkins said he was going for a knockout, which would have been his first since 2004, when he knocked out Oscar De La Hoya. That also marked his last knockdown before Saturday's bout.
"That drought is over," he said. "Maybe the knockout will come when I fight Stevenson."
Stevenson (23-1, 20 knockouts), who lives in Canada, fights May 24 against Andrzej Fonfara (25-2, 15 knockouts). Stevenson recently struck a deal with Showtime, so a win next month makes his match with Hopkins likely. Sergey Kovalev, who holds the World Boxing Organization belt, fights on HBO, and Hopkins indicated they would fight only if Kovalev came over to Showtime.
Regarding a bout between Hopkins and Stevenson, Schaefer said, "I will get it done." He will try to book it where they can make the most money, whether it's at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, on Stevenson's home turf in Canada or at another venue.
"I've been to Canada," Hopkins said. "I love Canada. They've got a big fan base for Bernard Hopkins out there."
Saturday's fight was Hopkins' first of the year, meaning his first since turning 49. Afterward, he spoke of how hard he trained for it. Although Shumenov lacks pro experience, he was a fast-riser at the pro ranks. "I ain't fighting cream puffs," Hopkins said. It was evident Hopkins still sees promise in the self-trained Shumenov, saying after the match, "He will beat some guys out there."
"Obviously, I chose the wrong strategy and used the wrong style," said Shumenov, who landed only 20 percent of his punches (124 of his 608). "I am angry that I couldn't get the victory."
Hopkins, who made his entrance to the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" while wearing his green alien mask, said that 2 weeks before the fight he weighed 181 or 182 pounds while sparring with cruiserweights at Danny Garcia's gym on Jasper Street. He weighed in Friday at 172.4 pounds, 2 less than Shumenov.
"That was on purpose," he said. "I did it for a statement."
Hopkins said he believes the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world are Mayweather (45-0-0, 26 knockouts), who fights at welterweight, and super middleweight Andre Ward (27-0-0, 14 knockouts), respectively. But considering the advanced age at which he's fighting, he said he doesn't believe he's too far behind on the list.
He's less than 9 months shy of AARP eligibility.
"I describe my legacy sort of like a Joe Frazier," he said. "We get knocked down but we get back up. I'll let the historians analyze and debate over the years as I grow a deeper gray beard and I sit there and have fun, watching the soap-opera talk and the discussion and the debate about what my legacy is and how my legacy compares to someone else."