Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) retained his WBA light heavyweight title after earning a 12th round TKO win against Cuban veteran Sullivan Barrera (21-2, 14 KOs) at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Although both have similar extensive amateur records, Bivol controlled the fight with his superior footwork, defense, and counterpunching. His punches were more precise and explosive, and he weaved under Barrera's punches with ease. Bivol also did an impressive job of mixing up his combinations, and as the fight progressed, Barrera looked more frustrated and outclassed. Although Bivol is almost a decade younger than Barrera, he looked like the technically sharper and more experienced fighter.
According to Compubox, Bivol connected with 243 out of 778 total punches compared to Barrera’s 75 out of 606. Bivol established his jab early in the fight, landing 97 jabs compared to Barrera's 10.
The end came half way through round 12 when Bivol dropped Barrera after connecting with a big right hand. Barrera was obviously stunned, and referee Harvey Dock waved off the fight upon determining that he was unable to continue. This was a good decision.
Unfortunately, Barrera previously rejected a more lucrative offer to face WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and instead decided to face Bivol. His decision for doing so was to negotiate an even higher offer with Main Events to face Kovalev upon defeating Bivol and winning the WBA light heavyweight title. It didn't quite work out the way Barrera planned.