Sullivan Barrera is getting the shot he’s always wanted. No, he’s not going to fight for the IBF light-heavyweight title just yet, but he’s one step closer to the dream.
After IBF ranked No. 2 contender Artur Beterbiev (9-0, 9 KO’s) rejected an offer to face the champion Sergey Kovalev in a proposed Nov. 28 bout in Moscow, the quest commenced to find an opponent for the IBF title eliminator.
Ranked No. 9 by the IBF, it seemed very unlikely that Sullivan Barrera (16-0, 11 KO’s) would be considered a likely candidate. However, the men ranked above him began to drop like dominoes.
Bernard Hopkins, Erik Skoglund, Isaac Chilemba, Andrzej Fonfara, Sean Monaghan, and Jean Pascal all evaded the opportunity.
For the record, Hopkins is pursuing Arthur Abraham’s super-middleweight titles, Erik Skoglund is scheduled to fight in September while Isaac Chilemba has opted to pursue Adonis Stevenson for his WBC crown, and Andrzej Fonfara is scheduled to fight former WBO titlist Nathan Cleverly in October.
It’s unknown why Monaghan or Pascal rejected, but it’s surprising to see Pascal reject the offer especially given his push for a rematch against Sergey Kovalev following what some saw as a controversial eighth-round stoppage in April.
After Beterbiev’s promoter, Yvon Michel of GYM, tweeted the news that Pascal was out of the running, Barrera quickly replied.
“I’m ready,” he stated.
Barrera is coming off an eighth-round TKO of French fighter Hakim Zoulikha (21-8, 10 KO’s). Zoulikha had lost his past three fights by decision and was knocked out twice previously in the championship rounds against Robin Krasnigi and Robert Woge for the European and IBF Inter-Continental titles, respectively.
The Cuban native who now resides in Miami, Florida has been calling for a step-up fight. Now that he’s got the fight – let’s see if he can deliver.