The tempo of the fight alternated over the first seven rounds Saturday night, although it seemed as if B.J. Flores was starting to assert himself.
By virtue of seven booming right hands—four to the head and three to the body—over a piston-like jab, Flores had Beibut Shumenov retreating, and entered the eighth round ahead 67-66 on the unofficial scorecard of NBC Sports Network analyst Steve Farhood.
“I was never anxious or worried,” Shumenov said. “I listened to my trainer’s instructions. I trust his judgment 100 percent.”
Implored by cornerman Ismael Salas to set up his punches with “the double jab,” Beibut Shumenov (16-2, 10 KOs) closed the distance and established The Moment at the 2:09 mark of the eighth, backing up B.J. Flores (31-2-1, 20 KOs) behind a jarring left hook over a grazing right hand.
“The left hook is the best weapon to use when an opponent likes to use a strong right hand,” said Shumenov, who pulled away late to win a unanimous decision (116-112 on all three judges’ scorecards) at The Pearl at The Palms in Las Vegas.
“I neutralized his right hand, made adjustments, used my defense and found the right angles and positions for my offense. I hit him with my combinations from the blind spots.”
Farhood scored three straight rounds for Shumenov, 31, heading into the 11th, where ringside analysts Steve Cunningham and Sugar Ray Leonard described the transition.
“[Shumenov’s] throwing combinations. Flores is coming back with the counter shot but it’s one shot. One or two shots,” Cunningham said. “Shumenov is hitting him with clean shots, throwing combinations, jabbing up and down, and he’s mixing it up. Flores is just following him around. He needs to cut the ring off and go to work.”
Said Leonard: “He’s become more aggressive than Flores. He’s trying leadoff rights, he’s circling, he’s moving, he’s slipping punches. He’s doing everything that should be done in a fight of this nature.”
Flores, 36, stepped up to win the 12th round on all three judges’ cards, but it wasn’t enough to take down Shumenov, who earned an interim 200-pound world title with the victory.
“I was very prepared for this one,” said Shumenov, a former 175-pound titleholder. “I’m very blessed to become a world champion once again.”
To access full coverage of Shumenov vs Flores, visit our fight page.