Vyacheslav Shabranskyy vs Sullivan Barrera
Record: 17-0 (14 KO) ... Streak: W17 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6'3½" / 75" ... Age: 29
Notes: A top prospect and rising contender, Ukraine’s "Lion Heart" was recently featured in a BLH Scouting Report by Radu. Here’s a quick excerpt from the in-depth piece:
Shabranskyy is difficult to outpoint, because he punches a lot, he punches in combination and most importantly he lands a very high percentage of his punches. Oh, and he does this non-stop for the entire duration of the bout. I imagine it's got to be exhausting to be an opponent in the ring with him. Even an experienced light heavyweight can expect to take more punches than perhaps ever before in his career. And there's some power in them too. Also, I have yet to see movement, angles or return fire deter Shabranskyy in any way. Neither your movement nor your attempts to beat him into retreat will keep him off of you.
Shabranskyy’s most significant win thus far came almost exactly one year ago, when he beat Yunieski Gonzalez, another Cuban, but this year has taken a step back in opposition, beating veteran Derrick Findley and Oscar Riojas in April and August. Shabranskyy was offered a fight with Andre Ward earlier this year, but turned it down, reportedly because the money wasn’t good enough.
So Barrera represents a step back in the right direction for his career, and means taht 2016 won’t be a total waste for his career. Either he scores a solid win and moves into 2017 looking good, or he fumbles and gets found out. Either is possible. He’s a good prospect, but hardly without flaws.
Record: 17-1 (12 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6’2" / 73" ... Age: 34
Notes: Barrera was outclassed by Andre Ward, but outside of Sergey Kovalev, who hasn’t been? A year ago, he also scored his best win to date, knocking out former title challenger Karo Murat in the fifth round. His loss to Ward is Barrera’s only fight this year.
His record is a bit empty other than Murat, which is a good but hardly great victory. Other than that, he’s beaten guys like Rowland Bryant and Joell Godfrey, plus his evil twin defeated Jeff Lacy in January 2015.
Barrera is a solid, fairly basic fighter. He’s got some skills, he’s got some power, and he’s not an easy out on paper for Shabranskyy. This might not be quite a 50-50 fight, but it’s not a mismatch, either. If Shabranskyy makes it look like one, it will be quite notable. If Barrera does, we’ll all just say Shabranskyy was never any good and he got exposed and he sucks, thus invalidating Barrera’s achievement entirely.
Matchup Grade: B. A fine crossroads sort of fight, both guys need the win. Barrera needs it so that he doesn’t lose two straight, and an upset of Shabranskyy would be just the ticket to get him back into the mix. Shabranskyy needs it because it would be at least the 1B best win of his career, equal to Gonzalez a year ago if not really better, and he’s looking for momentum going into next year.
- Antonio Orozco (25-0, 16 KO) will face Fidel Maldonado Jr (22-3-1, 19 KO) in a 10-round junior welterweight feature. Orozco, at 29, is older than you might think at a glance, as he’s still kind of in the prospect stage of his career. He beat Emmanuel Taylor and Humberto Soto in 2015, but this year stepped back a tad against shot former lightweight titleholder Miguel Acosta, as well as Abner Lopez, a middling fighter at best. All Orozco really got out of those fights was a couple of cuts from clashing heads with Lopez. Maldonado, 25, is a legitimately dangerous southpaw puncher who also sports a so-so chin. Grade: C+.
- Welterweight Eddie Gomez (19-1, 11 KO) will look to continue his bounce-back run against Rashidi Ellis (16-0, 11 KO) in a meeting of young prospects. Gomez, 24, was upset by Chia Santana in June 2014, but has come back with three straight wins. That said, his toughest opponent since then gave him a real push, as John Karl Sosa took Gomez to a close decision back in May. Ellis, 23, has fought a lot of his career in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but has been in the States this year, winning a pair of fights. He was dropped in his last outing and is overall untested, but this is a nice enough on-paper matchup of prospects. Grade: C+.