Light heavyweight contender Sullivan Barrera now has an opponent for his Nov. 25 bout.
Barrera will take on former interim world titleholder Felix Valera in a scheduled 10-round fight at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, Main Events announced on Tuesday.
The fight will serve as the co-feature on the HBO-televised tripleheader (10 p.m. ET/PT) headlined by former unified light heavyweight world titleholder Sergey Kovalev facing Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in a 10-rounder.
“I am happy to be back in action, happy to be fighting in New York where boxing is big,” Barrera said in a news release. “Felix Valera is a tricky and tough fighter. He is just another obstacle in my way towards fighting for a world title.”
Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs), 35, a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, is coming off a unanimous 10-round decision against Joe Smith Jr. on July 15; Smith sent Bernard Hopkins into retirement in his previous bout. Barrera has won three fights in a row since losing a one-sided decision in a nontitle fight to recently retired unified light heavyweight titleholder Andre Ward in March 2016.
Valera (15-1, 13 KOs), 29, of the Dominican Republic, has won two fights in a row since getting knocked down twice and losing his interim light heavyweight belt by lopsided decision in his first defense to Dmitry Bivol in May 2016 in Moscow.
“I appreciate the opportunity offered to me by my promotional company, Shuan Boxing Promotion, and Main Events,” Valera said in the news release. “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 is petitioning the WBO to sanction Kovalev-Shabranskyy to be for one of the three title belts Ward vacated when he retired in September. If it is, and Kovalev and Barrera both win, it could lead to a Kovalev-Barrera fight or for Barrera to land some other title opportunity.
“The light heavyweight division is wide open right now,” Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said in the news release. “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 matchup that will deliver in the ring on Nov. 25 at Madison Square Garden.”
Valera has fought all of his fights in the Dominican Republic except for two that took place in Russia. His promoter, Belgica Pena, CEO of Shuan Boxing Promotions, said they have been looking for an opportunity for Valera to fight in the United States.
“We have been waiting for an opportunity of this magnitude in the United States for a long time,” Pena said. “We know that Valera is not going to disappoint anyone with this fight. My fighter is a boxer with a lot of amateur experience and, with only 12 professional fights, he gained [an interim] world title in Russia. We know that Barrera is a great fighter, but he is in for major surprise come November.”
In addition to Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) taking on Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) and Barrera-Valera, the telecast will open with the previously announced junior lightweight bout between former titleholder Jason Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs) and Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14 KOs), who meet in a 10-rounder.