License to ill: Beibut Shumenov fights himself sick in his Greatest Hits

Most fighters claim that they’re willing to leave it all in the ring, but for Beibut Shumenov, the contents of his stomach are occasionally included. This is the extent to which Shumenov is prepared to expend himself in his fights: He’ll battle on till he pushes himself past his physical limits. Be prepared for some grueling gut checks (literally) as Shumenov counts down his Greatest Hits.

Beibut Shumenov

Beibut Shumenov lays it all on the line in his fights, his lunch included at times.

3 vs. Montell Griffin, August 2, 2008, at Stadium Khadjimukan in Shymkent, Kazakhstan

In Griffin, Beibut Shumenov (15-2, 10 KOs) faced the first real test of his pro career, squaring off against a former 175-pound champ who had bested James Toney twice and also earned a disqualification win against future Hall of Famer Roy Jones Jr.

Shumenov passed said test, but not without a bit of ralphing along the way.

“It was the first time I went the distance. After the fourth round, I was completely exhausted,” Shumenov says. “It was in an outdoor soccer stadium; there were 30,000 people there supporting me. I just fought with my heart. I couldn’t believe how I was able to (fight on). After 12 rounds, I was just throwing up. I was about to faint.”

Shumenov would lose his lunch but get the win.

“That was one of my hardest, toughest experiences,” Shumenov says. “But I would rather die than just give up.”

2 vs. Gabriel Campillo, January 29, 2010, at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas

If home is where the heart is, then home is where that heart can be broken.

This is the fate that befell Shumenov in August 2009, when he returned to his hometown of Astana, Kazakhstan, to face Spain’s Gabriel Campillo, only to drop a debatable decision to the 175-pound champion.

“I realized that I wasn’t actually ready to compete at that level,” Shumenov says. “I didn’t think I lost the fight, but I didn’t get the decision in my hometown, so it was very shocking.”

Afterward, Shumenov would settle for nothing other than a rematch.

“I didn’t want to fight anybody else,” he says. “It was on principal. I’ll fight that person, and if I lose, then I’m not going to continue my boxing career.”

Shumenov got the decision in their rematch in Las Vegas, and won a world title in the process, but he took away even more than that from the hotly contested fight.

“It made me a better fighter,” he says, “I had to do extra, extra, extra to improve myself to fight to Campillo’s elite level. I’m very grateful for that, actually.”

1 vs. Vyacheslav Uzelkov, July 23, 2010, at Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California

In his first mandatory fight after becoming a champion, following two hard-fought scraps with Campillo, Shumenov faced a dude who had knocked out Campillo—and Uzelkov let Shumenov know about it.

“He was talking a lot of stuff,” Shumenov recalls. “It was a lot of pressure for me. If he’s that confident, then he sees some weaknesses in me.”

Despite all of Uzelkov’s chutzpah, though, it mattered little in the ring, where Shumenov was able to make his opponent eat his words right along with a steady diet of fists.

“I never think, ‘I might lose.’ I always stay focused for victory,” Shumenov says. “I will fight with one eye, a broken hand, it doesn’t matter. That’s the kind of mentality than I have.”

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