Undefeated light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev will fight Sullivan Barrera in an IBF 175lb eliminator bout. Both fighters revealed the news on Friday of their fight. The winner of the Beterbiev-Barrera fight will be the mandatory challenger to IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Andre “SOG” Ward.
The Beterbiev vs. Barrera winner may fight Ward or they could face Sergey Kovalev or simply be elevated to the IBF champion without facing either of those guys. It all depends on what happens with the Ward-Kovalev fight and whether Ward retires or not. He’s been talking about wanting to do that.
“We just got confirmation that Sullivan Barrera insisted on the fight and it will take place. I would like to thank Sullivan,” said Beterbiev on his Twitter. “He proved to be a real fighter. As the Russian proverb goes: ‘Let the strongest win.’”
There is no date yet for the Beterbiev vs. Barrera fight. It could take place in March or April.
Barrera is said to have insisted on taking the fight with Beterbiev. Barrera (18-1, 13 KOs) didn’t have to take the fight with Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs) if he didn’t want to, but he chose to. It could be a move that the 34-year-old Barrera lives to regret. Whatever happens, a lot of boxing fans will still respect Barrera for accepting the fight with Beterbiev.
It’s a gamble though for Barrera. If it works out right, Barrera will be getting a title shot against Ward, and that fight will give him a nice payday. If it doesn’t go well for Barrera, he’ll be beaten by Beterbiev, and he’ll need to hit the reset button on his boxing career. It won’t be the end of the world for Barrera if he loses to Beterbiev, because he has enough youth, power and talent to comeback from a loss to the Russian fighter to get other opportunities. Barrera would need to go in another direction towards one of the other belts for him to have a chance of winning a title. Barrera might stand a better chance against someone like Adonis Stevenson or Nathan Cleverly. Those guys could have problems with his punching power.
Barrera beat Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in his last fight in December in stopping him in the 7th round. It was a good performance by Barrera.
Beterbiev defeated Isidro Prieto by a 1st round knockout last November.