Dmitry Bivol accepts Sullivan Barrera challenge for first world title defence
By Matt Horan & Tim Hobbs
Last Updated: 27/11/17 3:15pm
Dmitry Bivol wants to make the first defence of his WBA light-heavyweight world title against Sullivan Barrera early next year.
The unbeaten champion is already back in the gym and he was a keen spectator as Barrera re-established his mandatory position with a dominant victory over Felix Valera in Madison Square Garden, New York.
Bivol defended his WBA 'World' strap with a sensational first-round knockout of Trent Broadhurst three weeks ago as he improved his record to 12-0.
The Russian's manager Vadim Kornilov confirmed to Sky Sports that "Bivol will make his next title defence in February or March" and the fighter himself is ready for his toughest test as a world champion.
"It depends how negotiations go but I want to fight him," Bivol told Sky Sports.
"He is a great fighter and he has beaten a lot of good fighters in the division.
"You want to move up in your career and I am definitely be looking to unify titles and move up that staircase in boxing.
"He didn't look good against Andre Ward, but we know Ward is the sort of fighter that it is extremely hard to look good against.
"Ward didn't make the contest exciting but he still made Barrera fight his fight. We saw that against Kovalev who is one of the best in the division and even he couldn't be the way he usually is.
"Barrera moves, he can box, he's pretty quick and has good punching power. He's got a lot going for him."
Bivol has already admitted he would happily take on compatriot Kovalev and has set his sights on following his lead by unifying the light-heavyweight ranks.
Fellow Russian Artur Beterbiev holds the IBF version but even with WBC boss Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack two of the biggest names out there, 'Lion Heart', has one ultimate goal.
"Everybody, no matter what their job is, wants to move up the ranks and move ahead and for a boxer, unification is exactly that," he said.
"You want to move up in your career and I will be definitely be looking to unify titles and move up that staircase in boxing.
"I don't really think about being the best in Russia, my ambition is to be the best in the world."
With that sort of motivation behind you, you can become the best, the very best and you have to try to become just that."