Former champ Beibut Shumenov looking to bounce back in the cruiserweight division under respected trainer Ismael Salas

Former light heavyweight champ Beibut Shumenov is back in the win column (Photo: Ed de la Vega)


By Chris Robinson

There was no shortage of boxing in Las Vegas on Dec. 13, as the MGM Grand and nearby Cosmopolitan both held nationally-televised events featuring some of the top names in the sport.

Amir Khan thoroughly handled Devon Alexander in Las Vegas over 12 rounds on Showtime inside of the MGM Grand while Tim Bradley and Diego Chaves scrapped to a debated draw on HBO’s airwaves across the street. Also scoring victories that evening were such notables as Abner Mares, Keith Thurman, Jose Benavidez Jr., Andy Lee, Victor Ortiz, Errol Spence Jr., and the fighting Charlo brothers from Houston, Tex.

With so much action going down, it shouldn’t be overlooked that former light heavyweight champ Beibut Shumenov returned to the ring following his split-decision loss to Bernard Hopkins in April.

The 31-year old Shumenov (15-2, 10 KO’s) is now campaigning in the cruiserweight division, as he scored a fifth round stoppage over Bobby Thomas Jr. on the aforementioned night of Dec. 13.

“It’s much easier for me fighting at 200 pounds than 175,” the Kazakhstan native explained. “My body couldn’t take it anymore. When I first came to America seven years ago, I planned to fight as a heavyweight or cruiserweight because I weighed 240-245 pounds. When I moved here to Las Vegas everybody my size were super middleweights and light heavyweights. The decision was made then for me to fight as a light heavyweight.

“I’m not making excuses but I lost 55 pounds for my last fight,” Shumenov added. “I saw opportunities but my body failed me. I wanted to throw punches but my body didn’t respond. I made a decision to move up to cruiserweight and also added a great head coach, Ismael Salas. He teaches the Cuban boxing style and (assistant trainer) Jeff (Grmoja) uses an old-school American style. And Rodney Crisler (team member) shares his knowledge, too. I have a great team supporting me.”

Salas is one of the more-revered coaches in the game and he has worked over the years with such standout talents as Yuriorkis Gamboa, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Jessie Vargas.

“I’m very happy that Beibut was so comfortable and that he stuck to the game plan from the first round until the end,” Salas stated. “Every fight is a learning experience. We liked what we saw during the fight; Beibut did everything I asked of him.”

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