Last week, Boxing Scene reported that serious talks were underway for yet another major light heavyweight fight in 2017. Sullivan Barrera claimed that he is in talks to possibly fight Sergey Kovalev in Madison Square Garden this coming November.
The Cuban Barrera and Russian Kovalev are both the product of elite amateur boxing programs. Yet both have developed exciting, power-punching styles for the professional ranks.
Kovalev is on a two-fight losing streak, but that needs to be qualified, because both of those losses came against Andre Ward, the greatest fighter in the world. And a lot of people felt Kovalev should have won the first fight.
Barrera’s only professional loss came against Ward, as well, although the bout was not remotely close. Then again, aside from Kovalev, nobody has ever fought Ward close. Barrera did better than most others.
Barrera followed that loss by picking up an outstanding stoppage win over Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. Last July, he put on a boxing clinic against the rugged, hard-punching Joe Smith Jr.
Before the two fights with Ward, I would have picked Kovalev to win without any qualifications. Barrera is very good, but Kovalev has demonstrated that he is a dangerous boxer-puncher.
It will be interesting to see how those two losses might have impacted him. He did not appear to absorb a tremendous amount of punishment, even in his stoppage loss. But it had to have been tough to absorb mentally. Kovalev unquestionably believes he deserved to win the first fight and many observers agree with him. To come back in the rematch and get stopped has to have been discouraging.
Kovalev strikes me as a mentally tough individual, but I have no real insight into him as a person beyond what any other hardcore fan might have. I do expect that Barrera would prove to be a very tough and determined welcome back fight.