By Carlos Boogs
BoxingScene.com first reported on Thursday that Sullivan Barrera (18-1, 13 KOs) had walked away from a scheduled IBF final eliminator with highly regarded Artur Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs).
The fight was scheduled to take place on April 21, with Beterbiev traveling to Barrera's backyard of Miami, Florida.
The winner would have become the mandatory challenger to the IBF title which is currently owned by Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs).
Several IBF ranked contenders in the top ten had refused to fight Beterbiev - until Barrera answered the call.
The terms were agreed upon between Beterbiev's promoter Yvon Michel and Barrera's promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events.
Last month, Barrera had complained on social media that he never received a contract and accused Beterbiev and Michel of playing games. That came as a surprise to Michel, who had a signed contract from Barrera. Even Duva took the side of Michel and Beterbiev in the online dispute.
Now Michel will file an application with the IBF to make Beterbiev the mandatory challenger by default. He would have to wait for the outcome of the rematch between Ward and Sergey Kovalev, which may take place on June 17.
“My fight against Sullivan Barrera has been cancelled. The American boxer of Cuban origin refused to face me in an IBF eliminator bout. At present he might make up different excuses for his refusal (absence of contract, signature, etc.), but there are facts he cannot deny. Let us be honest - everything gets down to his money for this fight," Beterbiev stated on social media.
"As you are well aware of, on February 2nd the Beterbiev-Barrera fight went to a purse bid. My promoter (GYM) won with a bid of $251,000. Main Events, Barrera’s promoter, bid just over $181,000. A 75-25 split for this bout was in my favor, because Barrera is lower than me in the rank standings. Such a split is standard during a purse bid."
"According to the IBF rules, GYM had to submit an official contract for the fight until February 17th, including date and site. On the eve, on February 16th, I received a standard IBF contract for the fight, signed it and sent it back to my promoter. The same contract was sent to Barrera. After receiving both contracts the IBF confirmed the fight which was scheduled on April 21th in Miami, where Barrera trains and lives."
"On February 22th, Barrera started a notorious twitter war against my promoter trying to get more money from GYM. Kathy Duva even had to intervene by responding to her fighter that he must see his manager and lawyer. To cut this sad story short, I would like to repeat again: our 21th April fight in Miami was officially approved by the IBF and scheduled to take place. So whatever Barrera says, he refused the fight scheduled by the IBF."