In a press release issued last week by Round One Media, undefeated light heavyweight contender Sullivan Barrera called out former champion Jean Pascal. “Pascal, I’m waiting for you, papa. Glove up,” the release quotes Barrera as saying.
Barrera also makes reference to Pascal’s hotly disputed unanimous decision victory on July 25 over Barrera’s fellow Cuban, Yunieski Gonzalez, charging that Pascal “got a gift over my boy Yunieski” and “knows he lost the fight.”
The Pascal-Gonzalez fight was an action-packed slugfest, and to my own eyes, the judges’ cards did seem off. Pascal landed a similar number of punches, but Gonzalez was far busier and pressed the action. It also looked to me like Gonzalez inflicted more damage than Pascal, although both men landed, and recovered from, significant shots.
In a fair world, Gonzalez would get a rematch with Pascal. He certainly deserves a rematch with Pascal more than Pascal deserves one with champion Sergey Kovalev, who beat Pascal by Round 8 TKO in March. But both fights were highly entertaining battles and fans would welcome a sequel in either case.
Barrera’s smack talk highlights just how exciting the light heavyweight division is right now. Champions Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson are two of the most dangerous offensive fighters in the sport. Former super middleweight champion and pound-for-pound star Andre Ward would be well served by moving to light heavyweight, where the kind of high-profile fights he needs to showcase his ability would be waiting for him.
Aside from the big three of Kovalev, Stevenson and Ward, Kovalev’s former rival from the Russian amateur ranks, Artur Beterbiev, is one of the fastest rising stars in boxing. Beterbiev has knocked out all nine of his opponents, including former champions Gabriel Campillo and Tavoris Cloud.
Andrzej Fonfara lost an action-packed unanimous decision to Stevenson last year and absolutely humiliated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. earlier this year. In addition to Barrera, other exciting undefeated fighters at 175 pounds include Ukrainian Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Eleider Alvarez and 2012 Olympian Marcus Browne.
The division isn’t quite to the point where it was during the glory days of early 1980s, when warriors like Michael Spinks, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi , Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Marvin Johnson and Yaqui Lopez all fought classic battles. But the potential is there for this generation of 175-pound fighters to make similar history.