by Steve Kim
It's now a done deal for March 3rd at the Theater of Madison Square Garden where HBO will televise two light heavyweight title fights. In the main event, WBO champion Sergey Kovalev will face IBO champ Igor Mikhalkin, while WBA beltholder, Dmitry Bivol, takes on mandatory challenger Sullivan Barrera.
Barrera, had the choice facing either Kovalev or Bivol, to grab his WBA mandatory shot. In the end, he actually took less money to face Bivol.
"He was offered the choice of both fights, there was more money for the Kovalev fight but not as much as he liked,"stated Kathy Duva, the head of Main Events, which represents both Kovalev and Barrera (and is involved with Bivol). "So I think he felt that if he wins a title that he's got a stronger position."
It's a calculated risk that Barrera is taking and one that Duva understands.
She explained - "Now you're looking at a unification fight, so all of that remains to be seen. It's also a mater of how you win, there's a lot of things that are at play but in the case of a mandated fight like the one against Bivol, he's free and clear once he wins the fight, he's not obligated to fight a rematch. If he were going to fight Sergey in a voluntary situation that would be something we could bargain for.
"So I don't know if it's always just money and I recognize his position."
There were talks for Barrera to face Kovalev last month at the same New York venue. In that instance, Barrera was also unhappy with the money and instead fought Felix Valera on the undercard. Kovalev appeared in the HBO televised main event, and easily knocked out Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in two rounds to capture the vacant WBO title.
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com