By Miguel Rivera
On November 25th, on the same card where former light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev will face Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Cuba's Sullivan Barrera will return to the ring in the HBO televised co-feature against Felix "Mangu" Valera.
"Mangu," a 29-year-old former WBA interim-light heavyweight world champion with a 15-1 record with 13 KOs, had won the WBA's interim title on August 23, 2015, after beating the Russian-born Ukrainian, Stanislav Kashtanov, by split decision in a battle held in Yalta, Crimea.
On May 21 of the following year, Valera lost the title in Moscow by unanimous decision, before rising division superstar Dmitry Bivol. The fight against Barrera is being viewed as a new opportunity to reach the title.
Valera feels very confident in his ability to beat Barrera.
He believes that some of his past opponents, like Bivol, were even better than Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs), who is coming off some very solid wins - including a dominant decision over Joe Smith Jr. earlier this year.
His current plan of attack is to beat Barrera and then land a fight with Kovalev in the first part of 2018.
"I've faced better fighters than Barrera, I'm prepared to take a big fight, I'm sure I'll go out the big door and then I want to face Sergey Kovalev," Valera told ESPN Deportes.
"I will do the camp in Miami, Florida, I know that will allow me to improve and my coach already has everything prepared, he even secured the sparring partners that will help me in the preparation. I know I'm going to fight a good boxer, today he's one of the best light heavyweights in the United States, but we're going to surprise him, I have no doubt. He will come to give me everything, but I'm the boxer, the one who is going to walk to the ring is me and I am also the one who will take him to school."