By Alexey Sukachev
“We are set to go and I see nothing, that could prevent Beibut from fighting for the full WBA title this coming Saturday,” said his brother and business partner Chingis Shumenov, the co-head of the KZ Event Productions, during his conversation with this reporter. “I’ve heard much about those claims from Universum and the subsequent mess around promotional options on the reigning champion (Gabriel Campillo) but this frenzy won’t stop us and I’m pretty much sure we shall proceed as planned with the Campillo-Shumenov fight being for Gabriel’s bragging rights in this prestigious weight class. We have received the WBA approval, we have been working hard to get one. The whole scene is set, people are invited to visit the show and we just can’t let them down.”
The incident which put the whole tournament in danger, was disclosed two days ago, when it became known that Universum Box Promotions had filed a lawsuit with a Spanish court with claims of having promotional options on Campillo, which were stemming from the Spaniard’s victorious performance against Universum-promoted then-champion Hugo Hernan Garay on June 20th in Argentina; the suit being accepted and Universum options being confirmed by the respective Spanish civil court thus prohibiting the WBA champion to fight Shumenov on Aug 15. Both Campillo’s attorney Pat English and Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing LLC, who claims to be the champion’s sole promoter, strictly rejected Universum claims and confirmed the title fight wasn’t in jeopardy by any means.
Meanwhile, the Campillo-Shumenov world championship showdown, if happens as expected, will be marked as a special day in the history of Kazakh boxing. The uniquely-fast rising light heavyweight marvel Shumenov (8-0, 6 KOs) set his eye on the world record for his weight class of becoming a champion in a single-digit number of fights in his record. He will aslo attempt to become the third ever Kazakhstani to capture a major belt in the paid ranks.
The first was super featherweight Anatoly Alexandrov. After delivering a spirited performance against reigning champion Genaro Hernandez, while losing a thin split decision for the WBA belt, Alexandrov regrouped and got back with a decision of his own over Julien Lorcy for the WBO title in a year. He made one successful defence before being annihilated by the rising Brazilian star Acelino Freitas in the single round back in August 1999.
Already taking his spot was the biggest name in Kazakh boxing history – Vassiliy Jirov. 1996 Olympic light heavyweight gold medalist and Val Barker’s trophy owner wasn’t matched tough on his way up but, when he finally arrived in June 1999 with his trademark body punching and by beating the respected IBF champion Arthur Williams. It took future Hall-of-Famer James Toney to put an end on his four-year long reign of terror in the cruiserweight division, which included six title defenses (five of them being inside the distance) and a number of non-title match-ups. The third defense – against Puerto-Rican Alex Gonzalez – was as brief as they are; yet it was a historical one and the only to be held in Kazakhstan. On the 6th of February 2001 “Tiger” Jirov stopped his foe after just 95 seconds of merciless battling at Almaty Palace of Sports, marking the one and only title fight to be staged in Kazakhstan.
Despite a moderate success in the paid ranks, Kazakhstan is widely considered to be a major boxing state; thanks to its solid stance at the amateur boxing world map. Winning Olympic gold medals in all five Olympic games in which its boxers participated (Jirov in 1996, Bekzat Sattarkhanov and Yermakhan Ibraimov in 2000, Bakhtiyar Artayev in 2004 and Bakhyt Sarsekbayev in 2008) and taking numerous prizes in international competitions, Kazakhstan solidified its position as the second-to-Russia ex-Soviet boxing power.
Beibut Shumenov was a member of Kazakh Olympian team as well. During 2004 Athens Olympics he started with a wide decision over well-known contender Aleksy Kuziemsky (34-22), but then dropped another decision to Turk Ihsan Yildirim Tarhan (19-27) in the round of 16. “Beibut was in fantastic shape prior Athens Olympics; he was penciled to get the medal,” recalls Chingis. “Unfortunately, he broke his hand in the opening fight against Kuziemsky. He fought through a severe pain against the Turkish fighter and showed a fantastic potential. It wasn’t enough though.”
All-in-all the amateur career of Beibut Shumenov wasn’t exceptional, at least by Kazakh standards. He also captured a gold medal at Asian (continental) championship and took some honours at domestic competitions. However, he lost to Bairzhan Kairmenov during the national selection and later dropped his spot in 2005 WC team to occassional winner Erdos Dzannabergenov. It was when he chose to retire from the sport. It took Beibut a year and a half to revise his earlier decision
“Beibut started power lifting and soon he looked like a bodybuilder – around 210 pounds of muscles without a single ounce of fat,” continues Chingis Shumenov. “He said to me he had decided to pursue for pro career and I laughed at him. What weight are you gonna to compete at? – Light heavyweight, he said. I was forced to eat my words soon thereafter…”
Shumenov made his debut in November 2007 with the first-round kayo of fellow debutant Walter Edwards. Another quick blowout – this time of Cedric Howard (0-1) – followed soon, with the fourth-round TKO of capable journeyman Shannon Miller (23-39-8) coming soon. It was when Beibut started to realize that was a time to step up in class. “I was ready to fight ten- or twelve-rounders but I was prohibited to do so in America with such a small number of bouts to my resume. I chose to come back home.” So did he and posted two more easy destruction’s over journeyman Donnell Wiggins (24-10-4) and ex-contender Lavell Finger (26-2) in less than two weeks.
It was amazing but it wasn’t exceptional. It had all changed last August when Beibut forced experts to start shaking their heads after the schooling he dealt to former WBC champion and one-time Roy Jones’ conqueror Montell Griffin (49-7). Shumenov dominated almost every minute of every round and it reflected well on the scorecards: 120-107 and 120-108 (twice). Being a hidden gem for American TV, Beibut, a self-promoted fighter (KZ Event Productions is a creation of both Shumenov brothers), staged a local show in Bellevue, WSH, headlining it and taking an unusual approach to showcase his boxing skills against rugged Columbian Epifanio Mendoza (28-6-1) outpointing his foe over ten rounds: 100-90, 98-92 and 97-93. Finally, Shumenov made another splash last May, stopping another ex-champion (in fact two-time ex-champion) Byron Mitchell (27-4-1) after four rounds of brutal war. With the victory Shumenov became the IBA light heavyweight champion and picked a handful of minor belts, including the WBO Asia Pacific, the WBC Asian Boxing Council and an interim version of the PABA belts. Being ranked #6 by the WBO, #9 by the WBA and #15 by the WBC, Beibut found him in a perfect spot to start seeking for a world title opportunity. And the chance soon came across.
On the other hand, relatively unknown Spanish boxer Gabriel Campillo (18-2, 6 KOs) was at the back stage of European pugilistics, being treated more like an opponent than a serious contender. He started his pro career in 2002 and was fighting no-ones for three years before successfully coming out of a local collision against veteran Juan Nelongo for the national belt in 2005. Two years later Campillo (then 12-0) came to Kiev only to be dismantled by power-hitting local prospect Vyacheslav Uzelkov. Ironically, Uzelkov is still looking for his title chance, while Campillo is already a champion.
The road to the glory wasn’t an easy one for the Spaniard. He shook of the loss with a string of wins in February-May 2008 but four months later Campillo was controversially outpointed in Germany by the reigning European master Karo Murat in a twelve-round see-saw battle. In his penultimate clash Campillo edged another capable fighter in Lolenga Mock in Denmark. Yet, less than a few experts were even thinking about Spaniard’s future achievements.
The chance came into life after the WBA light heavyweight champion Gugo Hernan Garay decided to take an easy outing in front of his partisan crowd in his native Argentina. The first pick was Russian-based Georgian David Gogiya but, when he withdrew from the fight, the name of Campillo had been brought along. On June 20, decisive underdog Gabriel Campillo pulled out a stunning upset, outpointing his much more experienced rival over twelve rounds with a razor-thin majority decision: 115-114, 114-113 and 114-114. It was when Team Shumenov got the notice.
“We have been looking for world title opportunities since Beibut’s victory over Mitchell,” reveals his brother. “We sent offers to a who’s who of the light heavyweight class but Chad Dawson, Jean Pascal, Glen Johnson and Zsolt Erdei weren’t throwing punches back. They just didn’t want to fight us. Gabriel, whom we respect very much, was brave enough to risk his regalia against Beibut. Our negotiations were highly secret but finally we are at where we are now.”
“I’m not looking for a soft outing,” acknowledged Beibut. “Campillo is a worthy opponent. He is a very strong, very awkward and I’m preparing for a tough fight. But I’m ready to deliver some bombs. I worked hard to get myself in shape. Two sparring partners helped me much during my preparations.” Names of Daniel Judah and cruiserweight Jameson Bostic have been rumored. Meanwhile, top boxing trainer Naazim Richardson was reportedly taken to help yet-inexperienced Shumenov before this fight.
As for Campillo, he seems to be confident and ready to deliver his best on Saturday night, “I was fighting in Argentina as an underdog. I prepared well and took his (Garay’s) title with me. I expect to do the same with Shumenov, who will find himself in a world of shock pretty soon.”
“To be the best you need to fight the best and you need to defeat the best. Other champions were afraid of this guy. Beibut is too tough for them. But as a great champion, whom I want to be considered at the end of my boxing days, I had no other way but to take this fight. I’m sure I’ll defeat him. I think it’s gonna be a decision but the knockout is also possible. I feel the whole Spain is behind my back. That drives me crazy,” said the champion.
This fight means much for the country, Shumenov is coming from. “It’s gonna be a major event in Kazakhstan and I’m sure it’ll be a prefect performance on Beibut’s behalf and a wonderful show by KZ Event Productions,” said Russian top boxing manager Vladimir Hrunov. “That’ll be huge!”
The fight between Campillo and Shumenov is set for August 15 at “Daulet” national tennis center in Kazakh capital of Astana. The whole show, presented by KZ Event Productions in association with the Sampson Boxing, LLC, will be broadcasted live by the local Khabar channel (starting at 9:30 PM LT).
Three more fights will form the televised portion of the card. KZ Event recent signee Gayrat “Gerry” Akhmedov (11-0-1, 7 KOs) will contest the vacant WBC ABC and an interim version of the PABA light heavyweight titles, vacated by Shumenov, in a twelve-rounder with Kenyan guest Douglas Otieno (19-2, 9 KOs). Akhmedov, four-time Uzbek amateur champion, made some noise in his last fight, brutally annihilating Brazilian journeyman Luzimar Gonzaga (then 27-4) with a single punch in the very first round. The only blemish on his record is a draw versus skillful Russian cruiser Valery Volozhenin in 2006. Otieno is best known for his kayo loss to British up-and-comer Nathan Cleverly in December.
Another Kenyan to take part in the show is light welterweight James Kimori (11-1, 7 KOs), who is going to compete outside of Africa for the first time in his career. The task ahead of Kimori can be toomuch for him as he collides with the former WBO champion DeMarcus Corley (34-11-1, 20 KOs), a usual guest at Shumenovs’ tournaments. This fight is scheduled for eight rounds.
Also, the newest addition to the KZ Event Team light middleweight Ravshan Hudaynazarov (8-0, 6 KOs) will test his skills against another Kenyan veteran Joseph Miyumo (30-7-5, 17 KOs) over six.
Finally, rising cruiserweight Jameson Bostic (16-3, 8 KOs) clashes against Uzbek Ravshanbek Djabbarov (2-1) also over six. Two more pro debuts are scheduled. Former amateur standout Abzal Adambayev will be pit against fellow debutant Muratjan Kurbanov, while debuting heavyweight Doszhan Ospanov takes on Kyrgyz professional loser Emil Abishkaev (0-7) in four-rounders.