The upcoming battle between former world light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Vyacheslav “Lion Heart” Shabranskyy already has fans buzzing. Now this event on Saturday, November 25 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden will also include another bout in the light heavyweight division between Cuban Sullivan Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs) and former WBA Interim Light Heavyweight Champion Felix “Mangu” Valera (15-1, 13 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. This bout is presented by Main Events in association with Shuan Boxing Promotions, LLC and will serve as the televised co-feature of the HBO World Championship Boxing telecast which begins at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Sullivan Barrera, 35, is ranked number one at light heavyweight by the WBA and, if he can defeat Valera, will be first in line for Dmitry Bivol’s WBA Light Heavyweight Championship belt as the mandatory challenger (Dmitry Bivol fights Saturday, Nov. 4 vs. Trent Broadhurst on HBO at 5:45 p.m. ET/PT). A former member of the Cuban National Team who defected from Cuba in 2009, Barrera made his professional debut in 2009 in his adopted hometown of Miami, Florida. He quickly made a name for himself in the light heavyweight division winning his first 17 bouts, with 12 of those wins coming by way of knockout.
Barrera’s only career loss was last year against the recently retired former two-time super middleweight and unified light heavyweight world champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward. Despite the unanimous decision loss to Ward, Sullivan stood toe-to-toe with the former pound–for-pound king for 12 full rounds. In his most recent fight, Barrera came back from a first-round knockdown to unanimously defeat Joe Smith Jr. and claim the WBC International Light Heavyweight Title.
When asked about this match-up, Barrera responded, “I am happy to be back in action, happy to be fighting in New York where boxing is big. Felix Valera is a tricky and tough fighter. He is just another obstacle in my way towards fighting for a world title.”
Valera, 29, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is a knockout artist with 13 KOs in only 15 professional wins. He made his professional debut back in 2012 and won his first 13 contests with 12 of those wins coming by way of the stoppage. Last year, he travelled to Russian and upset Stanislav Kashtanov to secure the WBA Interim Light Heavyweight Title. In his next fight, also in Russia, he suffered his only career loss to the reigning WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol in Bivol’s home country. Since the Bivol bout, Valera is 2-0 with 1 KO. This will be his first professional bout on US soil.
“I appreciate the opportunity offered to me by my promotional company, Shuan Boxing Promotion, and Main Events,” said Valera. “But I am warning Barrera right now that I am not going to New York for a vacation! I am going to score that upset and get the win. After my win against Barrera, I am then going to call out Sergey Kovalev because I want to fight the best fighters in my weight class. I am going to put my country, the Dominican Republic, back on the map and make them proud!”
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said, “The light heavyweight division is wide open right now! Within a few short months, we’ll probably have four champions in the division. Sullivan Barrera and Felix Valera have both worked very hard over the last couple years to stay in the mix while taking on really tough fights. That experience will be an advantage for the winner of this fight, who will almost certainly fight for a world title next. More importantly for the fans, this is a great match up that will deliver in the ring on November 25 at Madison Square Garden.”