At one point, Dmitry Bivol had the least significant WBA light heavyweight world title (the interim title), but has since then elevated to full world champion and Sullivan Barrera isn't exactly too thrilled about that.
Barrera will challenge Bivol for the WBA title on March 3 and Barrera spoke to Fightful weeks before the fight takes place. Barrera said he's not happy that Bivol didn't exactly fight to be named full world champion and instead was simply elevated to that status.
The 35-year-old Cuban had been trying to get a fight with Bivol since last year for Bivol's first non-interim title defense, but Bivol instead chose to fight Trent Broadhurst last November in Europe. Bivol retained the title with a quick first round knockout win over Broadhurst while Barrera fought later that month and defeated Felix Valera on HBO.
"I don’t know how the governing bodies work, but I do know that Bivol never fought to win that (full) world title. He was an interim champion and then ascended to “regular” (now full) world champion. I’m happy for Dmitry but that’s not a title earned nor a title fought and won. Those types of things motivate me, makes me mentally stronger. On March 3, I’ll show him that I’m the true world champion," Barrera said.
One of the most noteworthy storylines in the buildup to the fight had been the subject of drug testing. According to Barrera, Bivol and his team wasn't exactly on board to undergo VADA testing for the fight at first. Although Barrera didn't accuse Bivol of taking performance enhancing drugs, the world title challenger said when an athlete refuses to take drug tests, then red flags will automatically get raised. Bivol eventually said yes to go through VADA testing, seemingly clearing the last hurdle for the fight to happen.
"In regards to that, one would immediately think something’s not right when someone at such a high level gets offered to enroll in drug testing and their first response is no. There’s also the fact that he’s a fighter coming from Russia and we all know about Russian athletes and their problems regarding drug testing. The vast majority of Bivol’s fights are in Russia and this fight isn't taking place in Russia. It’s in the United States of America. Here, things operate differently. I’m a high-caliber athlete and I have no issues getting tested for drugs so why not you? It makes you think real hard when someone like him says no to drug testing," Barrera said.
As for winning the world title, Barrera said it would mean the world to him if he accomplishes his dream to join boxing's elite and hold one of the four major titles in the sport.
"For me, the goal for any pro athlete is to win a world title and get to the top. Getting that world title would be a dream come true," Barrera said.
Bivol vs. Barrera will be the co-main event to the HBO card at Madison Square Garden with Sergey Kovalev vs. Igor Mikhalkin for the WBO light heavyweight title as the main event.
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