ON December 18 at The Palms Casino in Las Vegas, an interesting cruiserweight title fight will take place. Beibut Shumenov, the interim WBA cruiserweight titlist, will make the first defence of his title against former long-reigning WBC champ Krzysztof Wlodarczyk.

Shumenov, 16-2(10) and a former WBA light-heavyweight champion, faces what his trainer, Cuba’s Ismael Salas, says is the 32-year-old’s toughest fight since his loss to Bernard Hopkins in April of 2014. Wlodarczyk, 49-3-1(35) and the older man by two years, lost his belt in his last fight, in September of last year, in his seventh defence of the WBC belt. Not having fought since the points loss to Grigory Drozd, the Polish warrior – also a former IBF cruiser champ – is aiming to become a champion for a third time at the expense of Kazakhstan’s Shumenov.

Trainer Salas spoke exclusively with Boxing News about the upcoming fight and he said he expects nothing but a tough fight for his man Shumenov.

Q: In your view, is the Wlodarczyk fight the toughest, on paper at least, for Shumenov since his points loss to Bernard Hopkins?

Ismael Salas:  “Yes, as you say, this will be Beibut’s toughest [fight] since Hopkins. But boxing is always a challenging sport and we look at it like nothing is impossible so long as you keep your eye on the victory and continue to work hard. With Shumenov, we are in camp working hard. I have been with him for less than two years and we are working hard day by day to improve his fundamentals, his boxing skills. We are taking one step at a time and we know we must beat the next opponent [Wlodarczyk] and then look for the next fight.”

Q: How good is Wlodarczyk in your opinion, now that he is 34 and is coming off a loss?

I.S:  “In my view, Wlodarczyk is a very unconventional fighter, I’m basing this on his powerful left hand and his right hooks, with his very tight and high guard. We know that to win this fight, we must decode his style and get to him. Again, we are working very hard for this fight.”