Sunday, 16 July 2017 05:17

Sergey Kovalev vs Sullivan Barrera? Why the Russian should wait

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Is Sergey Kovalev vs Sullivan Barrera on tap?

Last night, Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs) rebounded from a hard first round knockdown to dominate Joe Smith Jr. (23-2, 19 KOs) en route to winning a ten round unanimous decision.

The scores were 96-93, 87-92 and 97-92, but 98 to 91 was more like it.

Smith, with his explosive power, had a few patches of success but I couldn't find a round to give him, sans Round 1. And even in that stanza, Barrera was clearly winning before being put on the seat of his pants by a massive Smith left hook near the end.

Sullivan showed a lot of ring savvy as well as a good beard and decent power. Moreover, he showed he can come back from a hard knockdown.

FightSaga had hinted Barrera, with all his Cuban amateur experience, might be more than young Smith could handle at this moment.

Tonight served as a momentum-stopper for the previously red hot Smith who entered the ring fresh off awesome KO wins over highly-rated Andrzej Fonfara and fight legend Bernard Hopkins.

Now what?

The HBO commentators suggested the winner of Smith vs Barrera could face light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (30-2, 25 KOs).

Should the Russian face Sullivan next?


Sure, Sergey would be favored and it would be a great match-up, but Team Kovalev should probably look to get back on the winning track before facing a fighter of Barrera's polish.

Their KO artist, Kovalev, has dropped two fights consecutively and hasn't scored a knockout since January 2016.

If there were a ton of money at-stake for Kovalev vs Barrera - and there wouldn't be, maybe it would be worth it right now.

Kovalev should be fed a tune-up or two before facing Barrera, and his team should allow him to become the 'Krusher' again and build momentum.

Should that fight happen, and it might one day, both men will likely be other's second biggest challenge to date (Andre Ward). Yes, Barrera would be a bigger threat to Kovalev than then-50-year-old Bernard Hopkins and possibly a bigger obstacle than former lineal light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal.

Sergey, you’ve had two difficult fights back-to-back and lost them both. Why accept another hard fight so soon? Have one or two stay-busy match-ups before fighting this guy….   

He's going to be very tough.

Lee Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.