By Vladimir Lik
WBA Light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) defeats Sullivan Barrera (21-2, 14 KOs) by TKO in the 12th round at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The official time of the stoppage was 1:41 of round 12.
Bivol was in complete control of the bout when a monster right hand on the temple dropped the Cuban-born fighter mid way through the final round. Barrera was determined to beat the count, but referee Harvey Dock deemed Barrera was unable to continue and waived the bout off.
There was a large disparity in punches landed as Bivol connected on 243 total punches of 778 thrown to Barrera’s 75 landed and 606 thrown according to Compubox. The singular difference maker in terms of stats appears to be the jab as Bivol landed 97 to only 10 landed by Barrera.
Besides throwing more punches Bivol was more accurate and had more power behind his punches which had Barrera holding on to survive.
“In the first few rounds I was a little reserved,” said Bivol immediately after the bout. “However, in the twelfth round I know I could knock him out so I stepped on the gas.”
The 27-year-old Bivol established his jab in the opening round and it set the tone for the rest of the bout. Barrera was game but it was clear early on Bivol was on a different level.
An accidental headbutt in round two opened a nasty gash over Bivol’s right eye but the upstart boxer remained calm and continued boxing Barrera and landing his left hook at will.
Bivol landed his first heavy-handed shots in the third round rocking the 35-year-old Barrera with a blistering combination leaving the Cuban stunned and resorting to defense to evade Bivol’s assault. Another accidental had more of an effect on Barrera this time but at least it muted the Russian’s offense as Bivol temporarily eased off the pressure.
Bivol landed another sharp combination in the fourth round punctuated by the left hook again and Bivol had Barrera back peddling, looking for answers. Once again Barrera resorted to playing defense and was relieved to finish the round on his feet.
Barrera began breathing heavily through his mouth in the fifth round whenever Bivol came close Barrera would use his experience and hold on much to the chagrin of the boisterous Russian crowd who wanted to see their man from Kyrgyzstan, who now calls St. Petersburg, Russia home put an exclamation point on the bout.
Bivol had Barrea hurt badly in the eighth and was applying the pressure to get the cagy Cuban out of there. Barrera started letting his hands go essentially fighting for his professional life.
In the twelfth and final round Bivol mounted what would be his fiercest attack of the evening landing big time combinations sending Barrera back and then a missile right hand landed on the mark just in time to close the show for Bivol.
Both men were amateur standout having complied a total of 553 combined wins before turning professional. Bivol won the gold medal at the 2012 and 2014 Russian National Championships before deciding to turn pro later in 2014.
Bivol won the interim WBA title when he defeated Felx Valera In 2016 then last year when Andre Ward vacated the regular WBA title Bivol was awarded the title and defended it in November by knocking out Trent Broadhurt in Monte Carlo.
This bout was the co-feature to the Sergey Kovalev-Igor Mikhalkin WBO world title bout and since Main Events- Kovalev’s longtime promoter has a piece of Bivol talks between the two camps for a unification bout in New York City may begin sooner than later.