This really should be a golden age for the light heavyweight division. And in a lot of ways, it is. The biggest fight of 2016 will take place at 175 pounds, when Sergey Kovalev meets Andre Ward in November. The winner of that fight will be my own choice for the sport’s top pound-for-pound star.
But Kovalev vs. Ward should be just the icing on the cake in this division. The light heavyweight division is loaded with talent. But there are a lot of great potential fights going un-made.
The case of Sullivan Barrera demonstrates the situation. The Cuban contender faced Ward last November, losing by decision. Ward clearly out-classed him. But there is no disgrace in that. Ward is, in my opinion, the planet’s best all-around boxer. Barrera did well enough against him to prove he was a true contender.
Yet he has been unable to secure another big-time fight in the months since. In a Thursday press release from Knockout Media, he discussed the situation: “I’m frustrated because as a boxer it’s tough to stay afloat. I’ve been training since two weeks after my last fight in March and I thought that I gave Ward some trouble but I admit that he was superior and I must learn from that but overall I would have thought more opportunities would have opened up from that fight. Right now I have absolutely no offers. My promoter claims to be working on something but nothing ever materializes so I am not sure what is going on.”
As much as I would love to see Barrera fight somebody like Artur Beterbiev or Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, I can understand why it has been tough for him to get that sort of fight. There is little to be gained by facing him right now.
The winner between Kovalev and Ward is going to stand as one of the sport’s biggest box office stars. A fight against that winner could amount to a life-changing payday. And a fight against an opponent of Barrera’s quality would put that potential fight at great risk.