Vyacheslav Shabranskyy/Photo by Getty Images
Golden Boy Promotions has its hands full this week. Not only is it promoting Bernard Hopkins’ final fight Saturday against light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. at the Fabulous Forum (on HBO), it’s staging Friday’s light heavyweight bout between Sullivan Barrera of Cuba and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy of Ukraine at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio (on HBO Latino).
It’s a big fight for both guys.
“Sullivan is one of the toughest opponents I have faced yet,” Shabranskyy said. “He’s faced fighters like Andre Ward and has gone the distance and has demonstrated his skill. Knowing that he needs this fight will make him even more hungry in the ring, and we are
expecting him to come forward.
“With this fight, I get the opportunity to face opponents like Andre Ward. But first things first; I have to finish Barrera.”
Barrera (17-1, 12 KOs) in March lost a wide 12-round decision to Ward, who Nov. 19 took Sergey Kovalev’s three world titles via narrow decision at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Barrera believes his rounds with Ward have made him a better fighter.
“I believe this fight is the most important fight of my career,” said Barrera, 34. “This fight will demonstrate that I am among some of the top fighters out there. My fight with Andre Ward has built me, and has given me the maturity to step back and think clearly. I needed that loss to win this fight.”
Shabranksyy, 29, is 17-0 with 14 knockouts.