WASHINGTON - For Bernard Hopkins, the money is good, the adulation is great and the fact that he's almost 50 years old makes him a true wonder of sports, and we're not just limiting this talk to boxing.
The appointments Hopkins has been making with history in recent years have been fascinating and successful. The latest came Saturday night when the 49-year-old Philadelphian defeated Kazakhstan's Beibut Shumenov at the D.C. Armory to become the oldest man to unify world titles.
The next engagement could be a fourth title belt added to the International Boxing Federation crown he retained Saturday night and the two (World Boxing Association, International Boxing Association) that he took from Shumenov after a surprising split decision.
"It's another page that I hope y'all don't get bored with," said Hopkins (55-6-2), smiling and mainly unmarked even though one judge gave an incredible seven of the 12 rounds to Shumenov.
"I keep putting these pages in there. I mean, money is great. But history, to me, is something that you can never get rid of. You can't act like it never happened in any sport. So I'm glad to do that. I worked so hard for this fight. You saw it in the ring.
"I'm telling you. I'm not done yet. I really prayed on this. I talked to my family, talked to everybody, I said, 'I must be the undisputed light-heavyweight champion before I leave because no one's ever done this in boxing, and I want the hardest puncher, the baddest threat.'
"Without a threat, I ain't saying I'm not motivated, but it won't be as spicy to y'all or it won't be too spicy to the history of boxing and the fans."
The next target is World Boxing Council light-heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson of Canada, provided Stevenson defeats Andrzej Fonfara in his next title defense on May 24 in Montreal.
There is one more light-heavyweight champion out there. He's Sergey Kovalev, whose most recent title defense came last month in Atlantic City. But Kovalev has a contract with HBO while Hopkins and Stevenson fight for Showtime, and you'd be more likely to see the Eagles buying dinner for the Dallas Cowboys than seeing a crossover fight.
Hopkins said he'd let Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, figure out the details of a proposed fight with Stevenson. He said he'd like to get it done this year.
Hopkins, who weighed 1721/2 pounds, took the 30-year-old Shumenov (1741/2) to school Saturday night before a crowd that included his Philadelphia pal, world junior-welterweight champion Danny Garcia.
It took a while for Shumenov (14-2) to figure out his opponent's awkward, unorthodox style. At one point, he turned to referee Earl Brown and gestured that he wanted Hopkins to fight and Hopkins obliged, landing a right hook to his ear.
Hopkins grew stronger later, nailing Shumenov with a straight right to the jaw that made his opponent's knees buckle and sent him to the canvas in the 11th round. But Hopkins couldn't break a streak that has reached nearly 10 years without a knockout.
"I'll retire when I get a knockout," he joked. "I might be around until I'm 80."
Hopkins landed 49 percent of his punches compared to 20 percent from Shumenov. Still, judge Gustavo Padilla of Panama scored it 114-113 for Shumenov while Las Vegas judges Dave Moretti and Jerry Roth had Hopkins winning 116-111.
When someone mentioned the fight appeared much easier than the scores indicated, Hopkins replied, "It was. Look at me. I'm 49 years old. Do I have a blemish? I was so in my living room watching Archie Bunker."
Beyond the Stevenson fight, Hopkins dreams of a bout against an opponent he did not name but just happens to be undefeated Floyd Mayweather (45-0), the world welterweight champion and four wins short of Rocky Marciano's famed 49-0 career mark.
"I know someone in boxing that wants to get to 50 wins and break Marciano's record, and I'll be 50," Hopkins said. "We'll name the promotion 50-50. We'll do that at a stadium somewhere. That would be huge at 165-170 pounds."
Until then, Hopkins will keep punching his way deeper into history, one appointment at a time.