Fighting Sergey Kovalev is a big deal for anybody in the light heavyweight division, but rising contender Sullivan Barrera admits that he actually rejected an offer to fight Kovalev.
The current light heavyweight contender spoke to Boxingscene.com and said he was offered a chance to fight the former unified light heavyweight champion in November, but rejected the offer because there weren't any world titles on the line. Barrera also said the money offered to him was not enough to entice him to take the fight. Both Barrera and Kovalev are promoted by the same company, Main Events Promotions, which meant negotiations could and should have gotten easier, but Barrera couldn't ignore what he perceived was a low payout for him.
“I was offered the fight with Kovalev, but it wasn’t for a title. They offered me no money—they said $300,000 first, but I said, ‘I’ll take the fight, but if I win you need to guarantee me another fight for more money.’ They weren’t interested in this. So I said, ‘No title, no money—I’d better wait for a title fight, because I know I’m next in the rankings for a title,'" Barrera said.
Barrera was supposed to be in line to fight for the interim WBA light heavyweight championship, currently held by Dmitry Bivol. When Badou Jack vacated the WBA "regular" light heavyweight title, Bivol was supposed to have fought the next highest-ranked available, which was Barrera, but instead Bivol signed on to fight Trent Broadhurst in Monaco later this year.
Barrera, the WBC International Champion is ranked No. 3 in the WBC rankings, putting atop or near the top of the list of opponents for the winner of the Adonis Stevenson vs. Eleider Alvarez fight for the WBC world title. Barrera has never challenged for a world title at any point of his career, but has fought the likes of Andre Ward, Joe Smith Jr. and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy.
Instead of fighting Barrera, Kovalev will be fighting Shabranskyy at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 25. That fight headlines an HBO-televised card, while Barrera is still without a fight for the remainder of 2016. Barrera last fought in July, beating Joe Smith Jr. via unanimous decision to win the WBC International title, his second career regional light heavyweight title.