Light heavyweight contender Sullivan Barrera has withdrawn from his scheduled April 21 fight against Artur Beterbiev, as reported by ESPN. Barrera did not provide an explanation for his withdrawal. The fight was set to be a final eliminator bout and the winner would have become one of Andre Ward’s mandatory challengers.
Beterbiev’s promoter Yvon Michel won the purse bid for the fight with an $251,000 offer, beating Main Events $181,000 offer. With the 75-25 split in Beterbiev’s favor, Barrera would have earned a $62,750 payday.
Michel planned to hold the fight in Miami, FL as Barrera, a Cuban defector, doesn’t have a visa to travel to Canada, where Beterbiev regularly fights. But Michel believes Barrera never wanted to fight Beterbiev.
"Barrera never signed his contract to fight Beterbiev and we know now never intended to fight Beterbiev," Michel told ESPN. "He is the latest of a long list of contenders who turned down an opportunity to fight Beterbiev for the IBF mandatory position. After we have won the purse bid, Barrera kept pretending on social media he was preparing to fight Beterbiev but refused to sign the IBF contract. Then they requested a Florida state contract. He got it and never signed it either. He could find any kind of excuses in the world, but the truth is he refused to fight for his share of the bid, the risk being too high for the compensation. If he would have believed he could beat Artur, he would have taken the fight."
Barrera is expected to be stripped of his current IBF position with the sanctioning body instead going down it’s list to fight another fighter willing to partake in the eliminator match. Beterbiev might also just be handed the mandatory challenger position.
"I don't believe any of the IBF contenders will volunteer to face Beterbiev for the mandatory position, so I will petition the IBF to name Artur the mandatory contender by default," Michel said.
This marks the second time a title eliminator between Barrera and Beterbiev has been nixed.