Dmitry Bivol faced the toughest test of his career tonight on HBO, and he passed the test with flying colors, dominating Sullivan Barrera and stopping his opponent in the 12th and final round.
Bivol (13-0, 10 KO) was able to outbox and outpunch Barrera (21-2, 14 KO) throughout the fight, then exploded suddenly with a massive right hand that put the Cuban down halfway into the final frame. Barrera did get up, but referee Harvey Dock stopped the fight for the TKO at 1:41.
Bivol mostly met challenges in the forms of a cut suffered over his right eye early in the bout, and a hematoma that developed over his left eye as the fight went on. Both came from accidental clashes of heads.
“I felt a little bit like an amateur tonight, it was a really great opponent,” Bivol said through a translator after the bout. “Sullivan Barrera showed me a lot of things tonight, and I have to work on a lot of things. Thanks, Sullivan.”
He added, “I was a little bit reserved. I was thinking how much I need to go the rest of the fight, but in the 12th round, I knew I could knock him out. I stepped on the gas, and the knockout came.”
“I feel like I’ve got the goods to be the best, but I still have a lot of work to do. I have to fight the best in the division.” Asked if he’s willing to do so immediately, Bivol said, “It’s not up to me. I don’t choose my opponent. I fight who they put against me.” Pressed again, he replied, “I’m not going to duck anyone in the division. I have a belt, so whoever wants it, come get it.”
Bivol landed 243 of 778 (31%) of his punches, including 146 of 378 (39%) power shots, compared to just 75 of 606 (12%) for Barrera, who landed 65 of 273 (24%) of his power punches. Barrera, who has a solid jab, was also completely outjabbed, landing just 10 of 333 (3%), compared to 97 of 400 (24%) for Bivol.