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Sullivan Barrera vs. Jesse Hart on Fury-Schwarz card on June 15 on ESPN

Tyson Fury

By Barry Holbrook: Sullivan Barrera will be taking on two-time super middleweight world title challenger Jesse Hart (25-2, 21 KOs) on the undercard of former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury vs. Tom Schwarz on June 15 on ESPN at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Top Rank recently signed the 37-year-old Cuban Barrera to their promotional company, which explains why he’ll be fighting Jesse Hart, who also is one of their stable fighters with their company.

Former light heavyweight world title challenger Barrera (22-2, 14 KOs) had previously been scheduled to fight a week earlier on June 8th on ESPN against 36-year-old cruiserweight Michael Seals (22-2, 16 KOs), but with former WBO 175-pound champion Eleider ‘Storm’ Alvarez suffering an injury training and unable to fight on the Fury-Schwarz card, Barrera has been moved from his fight on the 8th of June to the undercard of Fury vs. Schwarz on June 15, according to El Nuevo Herald.

Barrera vs. Hart is a much better fight than Barrera-Seals, which would have likely been a mismatch. Seals has never beaten anyone as a pro during his 11-year career to suggest that he would have been anything more than a small speed bump for the talented Cuban Barrera if the two had fought each other on June 8, as originally planned. Hart is a big puncher, who gave former WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo’ Ramirez all he could handle in losing twice to him by a pair of 12 round decision defeats. Both fights were very close. Hart had Ramirez hurt in both of the matches with his powerful uppercuts.

There was no hesitation on Barrera’s part in taking on the 29-year-old Top Rank promoted Hart. It’s a bigger risk for Barrera, but also likely a bigger payday, because he’s facing a highly ranked fighter with experience as a pro. Seals isn’t highly ranked. He was being brought in to face Barrera for a stay busy fight.

Hart lost to Ramirez in 2017 and 2018. The first fight was close enough to warrant a second fight, although that’s obviously not entirely the main reason why Top Rank decided to put Hart and Ramirez back in with each other. The promotional company likes to do a lot of rematches with their fighters in order to keep them fighting each instead of guys from outside the company. Had Ramirez stayed at 168, he likely would have fought Hart once or twice more. Don’t be surprised if Hart faces Ramirez again now that he’s followed him up to light heavyweight.

This is a big test for Hart to be fighting a powerful puncher like Barrera. Hart has been in with Ramirez twice, but he’s more of a volume puncher with moderate power. Barrera hits a lot harder than Ramirez, and he’s more rugged. Hart might not do well facing a guy with Barrera’s power, chin and relentless style of fighting at such an early stage after moving up to 175. Hart, 29, is old enough to face the likes of Barrera, but it’s still a massive step up in class for him to be taking on a guy like this in his first fight.

Hart tends to throw a lot of uppercuts. He’s kind of one-dimensional in that respect. He throw nonstop uppercuts in the same way that former heavyweight world title challenger Donovan ‘Razor’ Ruddock (40-6-1, 30 KOs) liked to throw uppercuts during his career. Hart’s tendency to throw so many uppercuts leaves open for overhand rights. That was Ruddock’s downfall during his own career. He fell in love with uppercuts, and ended up suffering knockout losses to Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Tommy Morrison. If Ruddock had other punches that he could have relied on his offensive arsenal, he would have likely gone a lot further with his pro career than he did. Hart is in the same boat. He just looks for the uppercut in every round and he gets hit an awful lot.

Thus far, Hart hasn’t fought anyone with punching power that would make him change his fighting style. Top Rank did a careful job of matching Hart, only putting him in with one good fighter during his career in matching him twice against Gilberto Ramirez.

Aside from Ramirez, Hart’s best opponents have been these guys:

– Dashon Johnson

– Thomas Awimbono

– Demond Nicholson

– Mike Gavronski

– Samuel Miller

– Derrick Findley

– Samuel Clarkson

Top Rank has basically matched Hart against lower level journeyman his entire career with the exception of his two fights with Ramirez, which he lost. That’s why it’s probably not a good idea for Hart to be fighting Barrera in his first fight at 175. Hart should be starting at the bottom of the light heavyweight division instead of facing an experienced fighter like Barrera. But at least Top Rank will know what they’ve got with Hart. If he loses badly to Barrera, then they might need to think about cutting him loose and focusing on signing some guys that have the ability to go somewhere in the division. Hart should have been much better opposition than the guys he’d been fed during his seven-year pro career. The fights with Ramirez were fine for Hart, but not all the wasteful matches against the likes of Gavronski, Nicholson, Awimbono, Alan Campa, Aaron Pryor Jr. and Andrik Saralegui.

Barrera gave WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol a lot of issues in their fight last year in March 2018. Although Barrera was eventually halted in the 12th round by Bivol, he gave the Russian fighter a lot of problems in that fight with the pressure that he was applying. Bivol was exhausted in the middle of the rounds, and not nearly as impressive as he’d been earlier in the contest. Barrera has past wins over Joe Smith Jr., Joe Smith Jr., Felix Valera, Sean Monaghan, Paul Parker, Karo Murat, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Rowland Bryant, Jeff Lacy and Hakim Zoulikha. Barrera’s other career loss on his 10-year pro career resume came at the hands of Andre Ward in 2016 in losing a 12 round unanimous decision in Oakland, California.

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