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December 17, 2016

Barrera outclasses Shabranskky in seven

Joe Gallagher

Sullivan Barrera is now after a rematch with Andre Ward after outclassing Vyacheslav Shabranskky.

by Shaun Brown

Sullivan Barrera (18-1, 13 KOs) moved one step closer to a first world title shot with a 7th round stoppage victory over Vyacheslav Shabranskky (17-1, 14 KOs) in Indio, California tonight.

Barrera, 34, picked up the vacant WBC United States (USNBC) light heavyweight title in the process after putting his Ukranian opponent down three times in their scheduled 10-round contest. No stranger to trips to the canvas in the past, the Cuban was down himself in the second round despite dominating Shabranskky in the opener.

Barrera, promoted by Main Events, used his jab to control the early stages of the fight, with right hands ready in waiting to back them up and tag Shabranskky, sometimes, at will.

Now based in California, and trained by Manny Robles, the heavy handed Shabranskky (promoted by Golden Boy) looked to be depending on his heart and having to put out every fire that Barrera lit to land a victory to maintain his unbeaten record.

In the opening round, Barrera’s right hand landed three times in a matter of seconds to put Shabranskky down with 1.20 left to go. Barrera, an untypical Cuban fighter who doesn’t rely on movement and boxing skills was on course for an early finish, much like Rashidi Ellis’ 1st round KO statement victory over Eddie Gomez in the fight beforehand.

Despite shipping more right hands and looking unsteady on his feet Shabranskky survived the opener, and then turned the tables on Barrera in round two.

Having been on the receiving end of a jolting 1-2 combination from the Cuban, Shabranskky landed a sneaky right uppercut which had Barrera on the back foot. An overhand on the back of Barrera’s neck dropped him and levelled up the scores.

Barrera showed no ill effects of the knockdown, taking rounds three and four before a stiff left jab and straight right put Shabranskky down in the fifth with half a minute to go.

Barrera’s right hands were troubling his opponent all night and the Ukranian would look unsteady more often than not after being on the receiving end. The wheels were falling off Shabranskky’s chances quickly and completely crashed inside the Fantasy Springs Casino in round seven.

An argument could have been made to pull Shabranskky out after round six. Barrera was showing his superiority with every passing second. His outgunned light heavyweight rival relying on heart and whose chin was badly exposed in this fight.

With just over a minute to go, backed by the chants of “Cuba, Cuba” inside the venue, another big right hand dropped Shabranskky to his knees again. Trainer Manny Robles had seen enough. The fight was over, Shabranskky’s unbeaten record and chance of a world title opportunity were beaten out of him by Barrera.

Speaking afterwards to HBO Latino, Barrera said: “I’m happy after a loss against Andre Ward. They were saying he (Shabranskky) was the next Kovalev. To beat him in this way, I’m very happy.

“A lot of people were talking s**t about me. I'm ready for a rematch with Andre Ward and Kovalev."

Barrera's win puts him one step closer to a world title shot either in a rematch against unified champion Andre Ward or WBC belt holder Adonis Stevenson.

Shabranskky has a lot of work to do before he can be considered even as a remote threat to the elite at 175lbs.