Sullivan Barrera: ‘I just want to show that I am the best.’
Light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera has his eyes set on a world title belt. That goal will never go away anytime soon. Whether that involves facing IBF/WBA/WBO titlist Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev or any fighter who happens to have a belt, Barrera has no preference as to who he faces.
Before a fight of that magnitude happens, Barrera has business to attend on Saturday night, when he squares off against Paul Parker at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The 10-round bout will headline an HBO Latino broadcast (11 p.m. ET/ PT).
Barrera (18-1, with 13 knockouts) is coming off an impressive knockout victory over previously unbeaten Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in Indio, California on Dec. 16.
All indications pointed to a title elimination bout between Barrera and hard-hitting light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev. While a date was penciled for this spring in the Miami area, Barrera abruptly withdrew from the fight on social media on March 9.
The bizarre turn of events evolved into a back-and-forth on social media between Barrera and Yvon Michel, who promotes Beterbiev. Barrera gave his account to RingTV.com.
“There were two dates lined up: First, it was March 4, then it was April 21 in Miami,” said Barrera. “(Promoter) Yvon Michel didn’t want to make this fight. There were date changes and nothing was concrete. It was unjust. We are top fighters and there were some stipulations and terms that we did not agree with.
“There was a lot of frustration (on my part). If this is for a mandatory fight for a world title shot, let there be the best conditions and intentions for both sides. The fight would then get made but some things were not clear.”
In the meantime, Barrera will have his hands full with Paul Parker, who only has nine fights as a pro but some consider him to be a tough out for Barrera.
Parker (8-1, 4 KOs) dropped Shabranskyy twice in their bout in June of 2015 but was stopped in round three. In his most recent bout in February of 2016, Parker won an eight-round split decision over Lionell Thompson.
Despite the experience and having faced the better opposition of the two, Barrera is not overlooking Parker.
“All opponents are of high quality,” said Barrera, who is originally from Cuba and now resides in the Miami area. “With all respect, (Parker) has two hands like I do. He may not have a lot of fights but he deserves my respect. We have seen his fights against Shabranskyy and Thompson and we’ll execute a game plan that my team and I worked in the gym.”
A victory over Parker may not immediately put Barrera in line for a title opportunity. Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev will fight on June 17 with the IBF, WBA and WBO straps, as well as the vacant THE RING Magazine championship, in play, while WBC titleholder Adonis Stevenson is penciled to defend his title against Andrzej Fonfara on June 3.
With those fighters tied up, Barrera is eyeing other 175-pound opponents.
“Realistically, I know I would not be fighting for a world title soon,” said Barrera, who is promoted by Main Events. “In the meantime, I would like to fight Joe Smith (who beat Bernard Hopkins on Dec. 17). I think that would be a fight the fans would want. I am more than ready to face someone like him.”
If given the opportunity to face Ward again, he believes there would be a different outcome than the unanimous decision loss he suffered in March of last year.
“I had the wrong mindset going into that fight. Ward has a lot of experience and he’s a champion in the division. During the fight, I looked all night to knock him out. What I should’ve done was had fun in the ring, so I would’ve fought more relaxed.”
If Barrera continues mentioning the big names of the division, it is because he believes he is at or near its top.
“I just want to show that I am the best. I want to fight the top fighters to prove I’m number one. If others believe they are the best, let’s fight. That is what boxing should be.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.
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