Interviews

Sullivan Barrera on Fighting Jean Pascal and Training with Gennady Golovkin

SullivanBarreraWorkout Bret Newton Main Events (2)
Photo Bret Newton/Main Events

Gennady Golovkin isn’t the only undefeated power-puncher fighting under the tutelage of renowned trainer Abel Sanchez.

Sullivan Barrera (16-0, 11 KOs) became the fastest man to ever knock out Hakim Zoulikha on July 25, fighting on the undercard of Sergey Kovalev’s three-round thumping of Nadjiib Mohammedi to extend his four-fight KO streak under Sanchez.

Former light heavyweight titleholder Jean Pascal fought that night too. And according to Barrera that’s who should have been across the ring from him.

“For my fight on July 25, I was supposed to fight [Pascal],” Barrera told Round by Round Boxing. “For a couple of months, my team and promoter offered him the fight… he turned it down several times for what reason I don’t know. Hopefully, this fight can happen soon.”

Barrera, nicknamed “El Mas Talentoso” (“The Most Talented”), has a goal to realize and believes Pascal represents the right move to make.

“An opportunity to face Jean Pascal itself means a lot to me,” said Barrera, a decorated Cuban boxer. “He was a champion. He has accomplished a lot and the only way to get to the top is to fight the best available.”

At 33 years old, Barrera’s time to reach the apex of the light heavyweight division is closing in on him. But he made the right strides against Zoulikha last month, overcoming a badly cut left eye to earn a referee stoppage in Round 8.

As an amateur, he won over 90% of his fights for an outstanding record of 285-27, beating multiple eventual belt-holders including lineal champion Chad Dawson.

A protégé of the Cuban School of Boxing, Barrera has used the exhaustive training that typically pumps out slippery stylists such as Guillermo Rigondeaux and Erislandy Lara to instead operate under a more dynamic fighting approach.

Relocating from Florida to Big Bear, California to work with Sanchez has only finely tuned that strategy.

“I have always been an aggressive fighter,” Barrera said. “Working with Abel [Sanchez] has helped me add the Mexican style of boxing, adding little things that have helped me out.”

Barrera continued:

“Training in Big Bear, in general, helps you get the proper rest, the proper training and, most of all, you stay focused—no distractions at all.”

Barrera has established his name in the division after six years as a professional, signing with Main Events Boxing promotions (who also represent Kovalev) in early 2014 after knocking out former titlist “Left Hook” Jeff Lacy. He currently rates in each of the WBA, IBF and WBO top-10 light heavyweight rankings.

But it’s his stablemate, middleweight champion Golovkin, who has brought out the very best in him.

“Gennady is a great person,” Barrera said. “One of the things I admire the most from him is the dedication he has, the drive he has to be the best and to train the hardest. We have spent a couple of camps together and I must say, it has only pushed me to a newer level.

“Being around him in camp has been a blessing.”

 

Header photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing

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