Dmitry Bivol vs. Sullivan Barrera: Will the Veteran Stop the Newcomer?

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The upcoming Saturday, March 3 Kovalev vs. Mikhalkin HBO World Championship Boxing® telecast opens with a blockbuster battle of two top light heavyweights as WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) faces Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs) at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Below is the scouting report for this action-packed match-up:

Dmitry Bivol
Sullivan Barrera
12-0-0 (10 KOs)
21-1-0 (14 KOs)
Bivol is a strong, hard-hitting light heavyweight. He has knockout power in both hands and has been successful overwhelming his opposition with his in-your-face attack.
Barrera has a strong jab he uses well, and has shown numerous times he can overcome the adversity that takes place in the squared circle, thanks to solid endurance and a granite chin.
Although he had an extensive amateur career, Bivol is still only 12 fights deep into his professional career. His inexperience as a pro may come into play if his opponent takes him into deep waters.
Sullivan has great technical boxing skills, but also has a tendency to get into wild slugfests with his opponents. He needs to keep his composure and stay sharp in order to avoid one of Bivol’s thundering blows.
There is no question Bivol has been through the gauntlet for his first 12 professional bouts. However, he does not have the experience nor has he faced the level of opposition Barrera has faced thus far.
Although this is his first world title fight, Barrera has been in the ring with some of the best the division has to offer: Andre Ward, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, and Joe Smith Jr. He has overcome adversity in prior bouts, making him a stronger fighter to this point.
Bivol’s power is one of his greatest assets. He throws vicious combinations and possesses significant power in both hands.
Barrera has a powerful jab and a devastating right hand, both of which have played roles in the majority of his stoppage wins.
The champion has solid speed, quick hands and is fast on his feet as well.
The challenger has average speed, and maintains a steady pace throughout the fight.
Due to the way he has steamrolled through his opposition thus far, Bivol has only gone a full 12 rounds once, when he defeated Felix Valera in 2016.
Barrera proved he could go 12 rounds in a decision loss to former titleholder Andre Ward. He earned 10-round decision wins over ranked contenders Joe Smith Jr and Felix Valera.
Bivol’s style allows him to be an accurate puncher. He likes to close in on his opponents, leaving them with little room to run.
Barrera’s is very accurate when he gets his jab going and puts his punches together behind it.
Bivol’s best defense has been his offensive aggressiveness thus far in his short career.
If Barrera commits to the jab, it can be very effective in taking any fighter out of his element, making it that much more difficult to get anything going offensively.
We have yet to see a big puncher have any offensive success with Bivol, so his chin is still a question mark.
Barrera has a granite chin. He has been knocked down, but has never been stopped, and he hass risen to the occasion to finish strong.
Bivol is an aggressive, in-your-face fighter who immediately enters attack mode from the start of the bout. He is heavy-handed and is making a name for himself in the division as a knockout artist.
Barrera is an extremely tough and technical fighter who likes to stick his jab and set up his shots. He also has a brawling style that inevitably comes out when his opponents show they are willing to engage.
Bivol makes his first WBA title defense against one of the hottest light heavyweights in the world in Sullivan Barrera. This is no surprise, however, as Dmitry has faced off against a who’s who of opposition in his short career. Although his Cuban opponent believes Bivol is in over his head taking on the WBA’s #1 ranked Barrera, Bivol thinks otherwise. He has full confidence in his abilities, and is well aware that if he has his way with Barrera, the sky is the limit for what he can do in the sport.
Barrera has been petitioning for a title shot for years. He has stepped up and faced off against the division’s best light heavyweights. After years of hard work and victories over the likes of Joe Smith Jr, Karo Murat, and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, he has been offered his long-awaited opportunity. Barrera opted to face the less experienced Dmitry Bivol. Barrera feels his route to a title shot was much more grueling than that of the champion, and believes Bivol will not be prepared for such a seasoned and gritty challenger as Sullivan Barrera.
Crowd Support
Dmitry Bivol is one of the sport’s top prospects, but he lacks the television exposure of Barrera. Despite a loyal Russian following, he may be at a disadvantage here. If he can comfortably handle the challenger in this match, expect his crowd support to increase significantly.
Over the years, Sullivan Barrera has established himself as a crowd-pleasing fighter. He competed at Madison Square Garden in his last bout in which he earned a win over ranked contender Felix Valera. He can expect significant crowd support coming into this bout.
The Match-Up
  1. Will Barrera be able to handle the power and speed of Bivol?
  2. Will Bivol be able to handle the non-stop jab in his face and be able to make adjustments?
  3. Will Barrera be able to focus on Bivol and not overlook him thinking about future opportunities?
  4. Will Bivol be able to handle Barrera down getting up off the canvas after a knockdown and coming back stronger when he does?

According Main Events’ matchmaker and 2015 NABF Matchmaker of the Year, Jolene Mizzone, “This is the kind of fight more top light heavyweights should be taking. Here you have a young guy in Dmitry Bivol who is ready to take the challenge with a much more experienced Sullivan Barrera. You have Sullivan Barrera taking on the youngest light heavyweight champion in the division to prove he belongs there at the top too, belt or not. Both have a lot to prove, and I believe the real winners are the fans, who will get a real show in the ring from both come March 3.”

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