Light heavyweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins may have turned 49 on Jan. 15, but he is not done trying to make more boxing history.
He already holds various age-related records, including oldest fighter to win a world title, oldest fighter to hold a world title and oldest fighter to defend a world title, but he will try to become the oldest fighter to unify belts when he faces fellow 175-pound titleholder Beibut Shumenov on April 19 (Showtime) at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C., a city where the Philadelphia native has some history.
Both fighters have agreed to terms for the bout, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer, who promotes both fighters, told ESPN.com on Friday. The Showtime telecast will be a doubleheader, Schaefer said, although he has not yet finalized the co-feature. It could, however, involve "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin making a middleweight title defense.
"I'm very excited that both fighters have agreed to this world championship unification fight," Schaefer said. "I'd like to call the fight 'History at the Capital.' Bernard Hopkins is approaching his 50th birthday and to be able to unify world championships would be a special achievement. Bernard always says he wants to make history and he has made a lot of it, and then he comes up with something else that will be special. He is setting records that will stand the test of time.
"It is a remarkable time for all of us to be able to witness an athlete, a boxer, who keeps trying to push himself to limits which we humans can't do. But he's an alien. I agree with him, he's an alien."
Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs), who has taken to calling himself "The Alien," will be making the second title defense of his third light heavyweight reign. He won his belt by unanimous decision against Tavoris Cloud last March and defended it in a dominant decision victory against mandatory challenger Karo Murat on Oct. 26.
"I'm very excited that this year is going to be one of making more history," Hopkins told ESPN.com. "I love being in position to do what no other fighter has done at this age. I'm excited and I'm coming for his belt because I want to unify the titles."
Hopkins' goal is to beat Shumenov, fight once more this year and then meet the winner of the proposed September unification fight between lineal champion Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev for all four major belts. The timing of such a fight -- if it could be made -- would put it in early 2015, after Hopkins turns 50.
"That is my incentive. That is the absolute plan," said Hopkins, who is in his 26th year as a professional fighter. "I want all four titles at age 50."
Hopkins was the first fighter in history to hold all four major alphabet belts simultaneously, which he achieved when he knocked out Oscar De La Hoya in their 2004 middleweight world championship fight.
After the 30-year-old Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs), a 2004 Olympian from Kazakhstan now living in Las Vegas, knocked out Tamas Kovacs in the third round on Dec. 14 in San Antonio to retain his title for the fifth time -- with Hopkins watching from ringside -- the unification bout has been on Schaefer's agenda. After Shumenov's knockout, Hopkins was with him in the ring during his post-fight interview on Showtime and they talked about a possible fight.
Shumenov signed with Golden Boy late last year with the express purpose of trying to land a unification fight with Hopkins.
"Bernard Hopkins is a legendary fighter and it would be an honor to fight him," Shumenov in December. "He said he wants to fight me, I want to fight him. If I had my choice of unifying against any of the other world champions in the 175-pound division, I would pick Bernard Hopkins because he's headed to the Hall of Fame."
At his age, Hopkins understands that every fight could be his last, so he said he will take this bout as seriously as any other he has had.
"I am taking this fight with Shumenov very, very seriously because I know every fight could be my swan song at this stage of my career. I cannot afford to have a letdown," Hopkins said. "I thought Shumenov did a great job in his fight in San Antonio. He is not to be underestimated but I believe my experience and craftiness will overwhelm him. He is relying on his youth and I gotta be prepared for him.
"He's not a guy who is going to come for a payday and to be happy he's fighting a living legend. I can't think I am going to walk through this guy and be thinking about other fights. I want people wondering if Bernard Hopkins can pull this off at my age. I want them thinking, 'Well, he's older now, he's facing a big puncher.' I want people to watch and witness history before it closes out."
Hopkins is trained by Naazim Richardson, who worked with Shumenov briefly in Las Vegas when Shumenov was considering hiring him as a trainer a couple of years ago. So Richardson has given Hopkins a scouting report.
"Naazim was telling me about him," Hopkins said. "I heard he is in the gym all the time, is always in great shape and trains like an animal. Naazim knows this guy to a point."
Hopkins has history in Washington and the region. He fought his first world title fight at RFK Stadium -- which is right next to the DC Armory -- in 1993 and lost a decision to Roy Jones Jr. In 1995, in nearby Landover, Md., Hopkins knocked out Segundo Mercado in the seventh round to win his first middleweight belt. He later defended the title in Washington, knocking out Robert Allen in the seventh round of their 1999 rematch.
"When I was in Washington (on Jan. 25) promoting the Lamont Peterson (junior welterweight title) fight at the Armory, the people there showed me a lot of love and respect," Hopkins said. "I got mad respect for the fans there and they got mad respect for me in D.C. Fighting in D.C. is like fighting in Philly as far as I'm concerned. It will definitely be a Bernard Hopkins house and I will give them something to cheer about."