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Sullivan Barrera vs. Felix Valera this Sat. on Kovalev-Shabranskyy card

Sergey Kovalev

By Jeff Aranow: Sullivan Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs) will be fighting this Saturday night against #7 WBA Felix Valera (15-1, 13 KOs) on the undercard of the Sergey Kovalev vs. Vyacheslav Shabranskyy card at Madison Square Garden, in New York.

Barrera looked great in his last 3 fights after losing to Andre Ward last year. Barrera has rebounded from that loss to beat the highly ranked Joe Smith Jr., Paul Parker and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. Barrera was knocked down by Shabranskyy in the 2nd round of their fight las December. However, Barrera came back strong after that and dropped Shabranskyy in round 5 and 7 to get a 7th round stoppage.

Being on the undercard of the Kovalev-Shabranskyy, Barrera might get lucky and get a chance to fight the winner of that fight. It’s unlikely Kovalev will want to face a dangerous fighter like Barrera unless HBO pushes hard to make that fight. Barrera likely has a better chance of beating Kovalev than he does Bivol, who is a lot younger than the both of them at 26 and is looking very solid right now.

#1 WBA Barrera, 35, will be challenging for a title soon against WBA World light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol if he can get past Valera on Saturday. Valera, 29, isn’t an easy mark, as he’s showed in some of his recent victories over Stanislav Kashtanov, Gusmyr Perdomo and Andy Perez. The one less than stellar performance on Valera’s 5-year pro resume was his loss to Dmitry Bivol last year in May. Bivol beat Valera by a 12 round unanimous decision, and dropped him a couple of times in the process.

On the same card, former featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (27-2, 17 KOs) will be fighting former super featherweight belt holder Jason Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs) in a 10 round fight. Sosa, 29, hasn’t fought since losing a 9th round stoppage to WBO 130 lb. champion Vasyl Lomachenko on April 8. Sosa was totally outclassed in that fight, which isn’t surprising. Lomachenko is fighting at a high level, and he’s going to make anyone look bad. Before losing to Lomachenko, Sosa had beaten Stephen Smith and Javier Fortuna in back to back fights. Sosa had also fought Nicholas Walters to a standstill in fighting him to a 10 round draw in 2015.

35-year-old Gamboa looks like he’s on the downside of his career at this point. He fought poorly in his last fights against Alexis Reyes and Robinson Castellanos. Gamboa lost to Castellano in getting stopped in the 7th round. After that fight, Gamboa had to struggle hard to defeat Alexis Reyes, a fighter that isn’t a world class contender. Gamboa barely beat Reyes in winning a 10 round majority decision on August 12. That’s a sign that Gamboa doesn’t have a lot left at this point in his career.

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