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Dmitry Bivol says he wants Kovalev or Stevenson after Barrera fight


By Jim Dower: WBA World light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) will be targeting WBO champion Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev and WBC champ Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson after he defeats his mandatory challenger Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs) this Saturday night on March 3 on HBO Boxing at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Barrera isn’t the type of fighter that is normally overlooked by his opponents. He’s one of the best fighters in the 175lb. division right now, and there are more than a few boxing fans giving him a good of defeating the Russian Bivol on Saturday night.

If Bivol can blast through Barrera like he’s been doing with his opposition lately, then perhaps he’s ready to take on Kovalev and Stevenson. Those fighters likely won’t be eager to face Bivol, especially if he looks good against Barrera.

Bivol, 27, wants to unify the 175 lb. division, and Kovalev and Stevenson are 2 of the biggest names in the weight class. The other champion is IBF belt holder Artur Beterbiev, but he’s not as popular as Stevenson and Kovalev. Those guys have been around for a while as champions in the weight class, and they’re both well-known.

Barrera, 35, is the toughest opponent Bivol will have faced in his 4-year career. The best guy Bivol has faced is Felix Valera, who went 12 rounds with him in May 2016. Bivol won a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision over Valera, but he wasn’t able to hurt him badly enough to keep him down. Valera was knocked down in the 6th and 8th rounds.

“After this, I want to fight the best fighters and I want to fight other champions so I can get more belts – whether that will be Kovalev or Stevenson,” Bivol said. ”After this fight I will get with my team and we will decide who to fight next but I always want to fight the best but now I am only thinking about Barrera.”

If Bivol can’t get Stevenson or Kovalev to face him, then he might need to be content with defending his World Boxing Association title against the like of Marcus Browne, Eleider Alvarez, Joe Smith Jr. or Juergen Braehmer. Badou Jack is rated #2 by the WBA, but he’s going to be facing Stevenson next. That puts Jack out of play. He’s not going to be a good option for Bivol to fight if he gets beaten by Stevenson.
Bivol has the punching power to defeat Barrera. The experience is lacking on Bivol’s part in terms of pro experience. Bivol beat Australian Trent Broadhurst (20-2) by a 1st round knockout in his title defense on November 4 in Monte Carlo. Broadhurst wasn’t enough of a test to show how good Bivol is.

Bivol’s other wins in the last 2 years have been against Cedric Agnew, Samuel Clarkson, Robert Berridge, Yevgeni Bakhteienko, Felix Valera and Jackson Junior. Barrera recently beat Valera, Joe Smith Jr., Paul Parker and Vyachechlav Shabranskyy. Barrera lost to Andre Ward by a 12 round unanimous decision on March 26, 2016. The fight was not particularly close. Ward out-boxed Barrera over 12 rounds. That was a learning experience for Barrera.

“I know Barrera is very strong and is a tough fighter. I had very good sparring partners to help me prepare for Barrera and that makes me believe that I will be the winner and stay champion. ” know this is a big fight and I’m excited to get to fight a guy like Barrera. On Saturday night, the fans will get to see what I am on all about.”

It’ll be an upset if Bivol loses this fight, as he’s seen as the future of the light heavyweight division by a lot of boxing fans. Getting beaten will show that a lot of fans were wrong in their appraisal of Bivol’s skills. Instead of Barrera getting full credit, many fans will likely downgrade Bivol and say he was just a hype job all along.

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