Sullivan Barrera Exclusive Interview: Unheralded Cuban standout Sullivan Barrera is about to make his presence known in boxing’s light- heavyweight division. The undefeated banger with a stellar amateur ledger is moving forward after a 23 month layoff, scoring a one-sided decision win over veteran Joell Godfrey, 16-10-1 two weeks ago. With the win the 31-year old improved to 10-0 with 6 knockouts and is expected to have big fights on the radar in the near future. The talent rich 175 lb. division features champions Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson and Bernard Hopkins but Barrera says he is ready for all comers.
The 6’2″ Barrera has large caliber ammo in both barrels and has improved his boxing skills under the tutelage of famed New York trainer Milton LaCroix. The light-heavyweight division is rich in talent but the body-snatching Barrera could hold his own with the division’s best despite having boxed only 31 pro rounds. I caught up with star lightweight Yuriorkis Gamboa’s paisano at Punch Fitness fight gym in Miami.
Sullivan Barrera Exclusive Interview
Q: Why were you inactive for 23 months prior to your recent win over Godfrey?
A: I was inactive because I had the same promoter as Yuriorkis Gamboa and when Yuriorkis Gamboa left to sign with 50 Cent’s company my promoter didn’t set up any fights for me out of spite.
Q: Before the layoff you won a decision over undefeated Damar Singleton (8-0) in the biggest fight of your career on NBC. You got the win but were unable to put the over matched fighter on the floor. How do you grade your performance for that fight?
A: I was not 100% for that fight because of a bad infection on my foot. The infection was so bad that I was unable to run. I took the fight on short notice and even with the infection I thought I could beat the guy.
Q:What have you been working on with your new trainer Milton LaCroix?
A: Although I have lots of amateur fights the pro’s are different. I was used to just attacking and trying to rip guys heads off but now i’m learning more subtle tricks. I’m learning how to sit back, slip shots and counter-punch more.
Q: (To Trainer Milton LaCroix) What improvements have you seen as a trainer?
A: He was used to leaning forward. Now he realizes he can sit back and hurt guys with the same power. His head movement is much improved. He also is starting to move with his legs and counter-punch naturally. He is moving in and out more. My style is to teach how to hit and not get hit. Because he has so many amateur bouts it is difficult to change old habits but the more I drill it into him the better he should be.
Q: Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson and Bernard Hopkins are the champions at light-heavyweight. If you had your pick who would you fight?
A: Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins is old and with the pressure I would bring he would be unable to handle it. I would hurt him to the body and rough him up.
Q:You had over 300 amateur fights. What would you say was your best win as an amateur?
A: I almost sent Chad Dawson to the morgue. I beat the crap out of “Bad Chad”.
Q: What is your best punch?
A: Straight right-hand to the body.
Q: What would you like to say to your fans and supporters?
A: I’m always going to give the best I have when I’m in that ring. Oh, and Sullivan forever (laughs).