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Dmitry Bivol to defend light heavyweight title against Sullivan Barrera on March 3

Photo by Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Fighters Network

The light heavyweight division is the hottest division in boxing, and now another intriguing title fight is on deck for 2018.

Dmitry Bivol, the WBA’s 175-pound titleholder, will make the second defense of his belt in an HBO-televised fight against Sullivan Barrera on March 3 in New York, the champ’s promoter, Russian-based World of Boxing, announced Tuesday.

Main Events promotes Barrera and also is working with Bivol as the fighter’s de facto U.S. promoter.

Sergey Kovalev will defend his WBO strap against Igor Mikhalkin in the HBO main event, possibly setting up a unification fight later this year with the winner of Bivol-Barrera (Kovalev also is with Main Events).

“This is not the first time that I am training for the most important fight of my career, and this motivates me and makes me happy,” said Bivol. “Sullivan Barrera is what we wanted and I am glad that we will meet in the ring soon.”

Bivol (12-0, 10 knockouts) broke through in 2017 with wins over Samuel Clarkson, Cedric Agnew and a first-round knockout of Trent Broadhurst in his HBO debut. The 27-year-old Russian puncher is an immense talent and already is rated No. 6 by THE RING.

He’ll step way up in competition with the assignment against Barrera which will mark his first bout against a RING-rated light heavyweight.

Barrera’s lone career defeat came against former pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter Andre Ward in March 2016. Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs) wasn’t competitive in the bout and was even dropped, but he’s rebounded well with wins over Felix Valera, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Joe Smith Jr.

“I came from Cuba with one dream and that was to win a world title,” Barrera said. “I know it won’t be easy and I know I chose the toughest road than anyone to get here. But I know all of the tough opponents I have agreed to fight and hard work will pay off. On March 3rd, I will become the most deserving light heavyweight champion in boxing.”

Now, the 35-year-old Cuban readies for his first title shot, and it couldn’t come against stiffer competition.

With Adonis Stevenson slated to defend his lineal championship against Badou Jack in early 2018, and a slew of other top 175-pounders emerging, the light heavyweight division is ready to be sorted out.

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger