FORMER WBA light-heavyweight boss Beibut Shumenov (14-2, 9 KOs) returns to the ring December 13, kick-starting his new quest to become a two-division world champion, against cruiserweight Bobby Thomas Jr. (14-2, 9 KOs) in an eight-round bout on the Khan-Alexander card, presented by Golden Boy Promotions, at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Shumenov, who lives and trains in Las Vegas, last fought this past April 19 in Washington D.C., losing a 12-round split decision to then International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion Bernard Hopkins (54-6-2) in their unification fight.
“I look forward to December 13th and pursuing a world cruiserweight title with Al Haymon in my corner,” Shumenov said.
The 31-year-old Shumenov captured the WBA light heavyweight title January 29, 2010 in only his tenth pro fight, establishing the fewest-fights record for the light heavyweight champion of a major organization, with a 12-round decision over Gabriel Campillo. The driven Kazakh successfully defended his WBA title belt five times, in order, against previously unbeaten mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Uzelkov (DEC12), former world champion William Joppy (KO6), multiple world title challengers Danny Santiago (TKO) and Enrique Ornelas (DEC12), and previously unbeaten Tamas Kovacs (TKO3).
The muscular Shumenov, a 2004 Kazakhstan Olympian, realized after his last fight that making the 175-pound division limit took too much energy out of him and sapped his strength. Already rated No. 3 by the WBA, Shumenov will make his cruiserweight debut Dec. 13 against a fighter with the exact same record, West Virginia champion Thomas.
“I’m happy to be fighting again and moving up to the cruiserweight division,” Shumenov noted. “I don’t have to struggle now to lose 50-plus pounds to make weight for my fights.”
After being self-trained for his last three fights, Shumenov is now working with highly- respected Cuban coach Ismael Salas, who has trained a litany of world champions such as Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriokis Gamboa, Danny Green, Jesse Vargas and Jorge Linares, among the more notables.
“I’ve had a lot of changes after my last fight,” Shumenov added. “I trained myself for the last three fights but now I have added a great trainer, Ismael Salas, to my team.”