Big-hitting Russian Artur Beterbiev (9-0, 9ko) finally has an opponent for his IBF 175lb final eliminator – number #9 ranked Cuban, Sullivan Barrera (16-0, 11ko), in a fight that will determine the mandatory challenger to Beterbiev’s countryman and IBF, WBA (sup) and WBO light heavyweight champion, Sergey Kovalev.
Beterbiev’s team, including promoter Yvon Michel, recently opted out of facing Kovalev in Russia in November, choosing instead to go the eliminator route, and ostensibly give their man a little more time and experience before getting in with old foe Kovalev, whom incidentally Beterbiev beat twice previously in the amateurs.
The Abel Sanchez trained Barrera has stepped in and agreed to the fight in principle, after #4 Erik Skoglund and #8 Jean Pascal reportedly passed on the opportunity, alongside the #3 ranked Bernard Hopkins.
The #5 ranked Isaac Chilemba is set for a WBC eliminator with Eleider Alvarez, and the #6 rated Andrzej Fonfara fights Welshman Nathan Cleverly on October 16th in Chicago, which paved the way for Barrera to step in. He had been previously keen on a fight with Canadian former champion Jean Pascal, who controversially beat his friend Yunieski Gonzalez last month in Las Vegas on the Kovalev/Mohammedi bill.
Barrera also boxed on that card, beating Hakim Zoulika.
Beterbiev was last seen in June, stopping American Alexander Johnson in seven rounds.