By Alexey Sukachev
It’s not a common turn of events, when a fighter starts to create a considerable buzz over his accomplishments around the Internet before he actually got on regional or national TV. The most known example of this kind is a record-breaking KO terror Edwin Valero, who snatched eighteen consecutive first-round kayos, which were seen around the world mostly via the web. It was later when he started fighting in televised events worldwide. It seems we have a new Internet boxing phenomenon on the way up and his name is Beibut Shumenov.
He is 25, represents Kazakhstan, was an amateur standout, and that’s possibly all even hardcore fans know about him. And why bother? The answer is in his record, which lists seven consecutive wins with five KOs against an overall record of opposition equal to 150-65-13 (103-15-1 in his last three fights). After scoring three easy stoppages over non-descript foes he promptly kayoed two notable veterans in Donnell Wiggins (24-10-4) and Lavell Finger (26-2), then shut out former WBC light heavyweight champion and Roy Jones’ conqueror Montell Griffin (49-7) over twelve pretty one-sided rounds (video) and closing this year, outpointed durable knockout artist Epifanio Mendoza (28-6-1) over ten hard-fought rounds of action.
Definitely, it’s a sky-rocketing type of career start for a man, who was named 2008 WBC Asian Boxing Council Fighter of the Year ahead such talented prospects as Saddam Kietyoungyuth. To know more about Beibut this reporter contacted Shumenov in his Las Vegas office.
Beibut, you started your pro career only a year and a month ago. Given that, it’s not that surprising, Shumenov isn’t a brand name among casual fans and experts alike. An internet hardcore boxing junkie is quite a different story; though he knows little about you as well. Please, tell us more about you first steps in boxing and about your amateur career a bit.
As an amateur, I was a champion of Asia in 2004, in Philippines. I also won a silver medal in the 1-st Afro-Asian Games in 2003, in India. I participated in 2004 Olympics, in Athens, Greece. During the fight with Aleksy Kuziemski, who is the EBA (European Boxing Association) light heavyweight champion and WBO Inter-Continental beltholder nowadays, I had my hand broken. I won that time, but in the following fight versus Ihsan Yildirim Tarhan I used only one hand and the luck wasn’t on my side after that.
Fighting in the amateur ranks, you met many of today’s light heavyweight, cruiserweight or super middleweight stalwarts. Bring us some names and results in your mutual amateur encounters.
I fought with former world champion and Olympic bronze medalist Utkirbek Haydarov twice. The first time I lost him on points in Baku, 2003. The next fight, it was in Serbia 2005, I got a decision. I also won my fight against 2005 Asian and world champion Erdos Dzhanabergenov. I met Ali Ismailov twice (WBO #11 cruiserweight). The first time I stopped him during the world championship in 2003 by TKO, and the second time I won on points in the international tournament in Pakistan, 2003.
You have fought your last amateur bout in 2004. Your official pro debut is dated by the 17th of November, 2007. What have you been doing for almost three years? Was that kind of hiatus a crucial one or it was just a creative vacation?
I was a little bit disappointed in boxing after the broken hand in the Athens Olympics and decided to take a break and start my professional career as a businessman.
Tell us more about your first fights in USA.
On November 17, 2007, I was fighting with Walter Edwards in Wilson, NC. The fight was very easy and before the referee stopped it, I knocked that guy down twice.
Who is your manager and who is your promoter right now? Do you plan a transition under more sound promotional brands in the near future?
I am self-managed and self-promoted. From the beginning of my pro career I arranged all of my fights myself and never had any other managers or promoters. I have my own company KZ Event Productions, Inc. and plan to enlarge my business by promoting myself and other talented fighters.
You fought three times overseas and then there was a string of three consecutive fights in Kazakhstan. What was the reason for coming back home?
After my three fights in America, I was not allowed to fight more than six rounds, and I felt that I am ready to last 10-12 rounds at least with top-echelon fighters in my weight division. That’s why the following three bouts were organized in Kazakhstan.
How were you able to get such a stellar opponent in Montell Griffin in your sixth pro fight, considering you were fighting in Kazakhstan?
I have some connections with matchmakers and promoters in the USA who helped me to contact Montell Griffin’s team.
You started aggressively, rocking Griffin several times in the very first round, and continued to dominate over the course of the fight. Why didn’t you stop the former champion?
Montell Griffin is a very mature and professional boxer and I didn’t have enough experience to stop him. That fight was good for me and I learned a lot, fixed some of my mistakes, and improved my skills since then.
Tell us more about your fight with Epifanio Mendoza.
I dominated and controlled the whole match. My tactics worked as I planned and I had no doubt that I would win the fight. Epifanio Mendoza is a tough fighter and amazed me with his good chin.
Boxing fans and experts are quite amazed with the aggressiveness of your matchmaking. Don’t you feel you are moving along a bit too fast?
I haven’t reached the limit in mastering my skills yet, and I am always trying to improve my mastership and reach the highest level possible. When I chose to fight Montell Griffin and Epifanio Mendoza, I was prepared to beat them. I feel that I am ready to fight the boxers from the top list of the light heavyweight division.
It seemed so that though your technical skills can hardly be underestimated, you are relying more on your aggressiveness and power punching in the ring. Why so and don’t you feel that your defense is worth of polishing?
With every bout I am learning and fixing my mistakes. I disagree with your comment about weakness of my defense; I saw every attempt of my opponent’s thrown punches, blocked and got away from them. I missed several punches, but nobody is perfect.
What are you plans for the immediate future? When shall we see you in the ring next?
I’m working on my next event that will take place in February, 2009.
What are your plans in boxing? Are you planning to win a world title and when?
I’m planning to fight for the world title at the end of 2009 or at the beginning of 2010.
Don’t you think about a possible move towards cable TV networks and fighting, say, on ESPN or Shobox: The New Generation?
I don’t want to be showcased on TV very much because I see my skills might be improved and I haven’t reached everything I am able for.
Tell us more about your company KZ Event Productions and its activities? What is the role of your brother Chingis Shumenov?
KZ Event Productions, Inc. was organized by my brother and me because I don’t want to fight under other promotional companies or somebody else’s management. I would like to make decisions on my own about myself and helping other talented boxers to grow.
What is your take on your countrymen such as Vitaly Demyanenko or Semen Uporov? What do you think about their perspectives and what do you think of the current state of pro boxing in Kazakhstan?
Vitaly Demyanenko and Semen Uporov are promising fighters and rate high in the prestige boxing organizations. I hope, they will reach everything they want for themselves, and maybe one day, we’ll see them as world champions. There are a lot of talented boxers in Kazakhstan, but, unfortunately, we don’t have enough specialists in that field to help them to grow. Pro boxing is not very popular in our country yet. You didn’t mention one more boxer, Gennady Golovkin. I think he is a very talented and phenomenal fighter, who is already prepared to win the world title.
What is your opinion about 2008 Beijing gold medalist Bakhyt Sarsekbayev? Rumors are widespread he is turning pro pretty soon. Will it not be under your promotion?
I’ve known Bakhyt Sarsekbayev for a long time. I respect him as a very good fighter and will help him with anything he needs. As for Bakhyt’s performance during 2008 Olympics, it was amazing. He was great, and if he goes pro, he has everything to win the world title.
Your final thought and words for our readers?
Thank you for your support and interest in my career. I wish everybody Happy Holidays, peace, joy and prosperity in the New Year!