Dmitry Bivol stops Sullivan Barrera – Results
By Dan Ambrose: WBA World light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) stopped #1 WBA mandatory challenger Sullivan Barrera (21-2, 14 KOs) on Saturday night to retain his title at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Bivol vs. Barrera fight was the co-feature bout on HBO Boxing.
The fight was a boxing clinic with the 27-year-old Bivol shutting the 36-year-old Cuban Barrera out in the first 11 one-sided rounds. In the 12th, Bivol suddenly turned up the heat and unloaded with a flurry of shots to drop Barrera. He got back to his feet, but the referee Harvey Dock called a stop to the contest. The official time of the stoppage was at 1:41 of round 12.
Barrera had a tough time landing much of anything in the fight, as Bivol was picking off his shots with his gloves and arms and backing away. Barrera’s normally accurate jab was useless for him tonight. He couldn’t land it with any regularity. Barrera did land shots in every round, but he paid for it dearly each time by getting countered by the heavy-handed Bivol.
Bivol was cut over his right eye from a head-butt in round 2. He kept his composure during the round despite the steady flow of blood. Seeing the blood, Barrera tried to push the action, but he nailed by big shots from Bivol and prevented from landing anything significant. Bivol also had a lump on his left forehead that showed up during the 7th round. It likely was caused by another head-butt.
It looked like Bivol started to slow down in the second half of the fight. He didn’t look as powerful and dominating as he’d been in the first 5 rounds. Bivol was still dominating the action entirely, but Barrera had his moments in landing occasional nice shots.
Bivol looked like he was coasting most of the second half of the one-sided contest. He wasn’t trying to jump on Barrera despite stunning him several times. It wasn’t until the 12th round that Bivol chose to storm Barrera and tag him with a storm of shots. Once Bivol did that, Barrera quick fell apart and was dropped. The fight was stopped after Barrera was given a standing 8 count by referee Harvey Dock.
After the fight, Bivol said he would be interested in fighting any of the top light heavyweights in the division. A fight between Bivol and WBO 175 lb. champion Sergey Kovalev will likely need to wait until 2019 at the very least, as Main Events, Kovalev’s promoters, don’t appear to be eager to make that fight yet. If Barrera had won tonight, then he would have been an option for Kovalev’s next fight. That didn’t happen though, so Bivol is going to have to wait for his fight with Kovalev until 2019 or perhaps even later.
“In the 12th round I knew I could knock him out so I stepped on the gas,” Bivol said. “He showed me a lot of things I still need to work on.”
Barrera was landing some shots on Bivol. Barrera hit Bivol a lot more than he did Andre Ward in their fight in March 2016. Barrera was missing almost everything he threw against the quicker Ward. However, Ward wasn’t nailing Barrera with the kind of heavy shots that Bivol was hitting him with. There was a BIG difference in offensive talent and power between the way Bivol took care of Barrera and the way Ward did. It was a finesse performance by Ward.
Bivol was nailing Barrera with heavy shots the entire fight, but he wasn’t stepping on the gas the way he needed to in order to knock him out. If Bivol had attacked Barrera with a flurry of shots early on, he would have knocked him out quickly, but he was fighting too robotic to get the job done. That’s something that’s going to need to change with Bivol in the future if he doesn’t want to want to get stuck in a lot of grueling fights against punchers like Kovalev, Badou Jack and Adonis Stevenson. Those guys will make it difficult for Bivol if he lets then hang around. It was surprising that Bivol was able to get the knockout, as it looked like Barrera was going to be able to go the full 12 round distance. Barrera had been able to take the best shots from Bivol all throughout the fight, but he never had to deal with a lot of shots coming consecutively.
Bivol has a lot to prove to show that he’s the best fighter in the light heavyweight division. He did a good job of beating Barrera, but he’s not the only one that can beat this guy. Kovalev, Stevenson, Juergen Braehmer, Jack, Artur Beterbiev, Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Marcus Browne all likely would beat him as well.
It’s a disappointing loss for Barrera. He’s 36, and it took him 9 years to get this title shot against Bivol and he lost. Unless his management is able to rebuild him quickly for another title shot, he may age out before he gets another chance for a world title. It was the wrong opponent for Barrera to fight for the belt. He had the chance to challenge Kovalev for his WBO belt, and he would have gotten a bigger payday. In hindsight, that’s the fight Barrera should have taken. He would have stood a better chance against Kovalev than Bivol. I’m sure if Barrera had the chance to do it again, he would have selected Kovalev for his title shot.