Bivol stops Barrera in 12th, defends light heavyweight title

By BRIAN MAHONEY

AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) Dmitry Bivol of Russia stopped Cuba's Sullivan Barrera in the 12th round Saturday night to defend his WBA light heavyweight title.

Bivol was dominating the fight and a little over a minute from winning an easy decision when he caught Barrera with a hard right to the head to set up the knockdown. Barrera was able to get up in time but the referee stopped the fight at 1:41 of the round.

Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) outlanded Barrera 243-75 in total punches, according the final stats, in the first of two light heavyweight title fights at Madison Square Garden. Sergey Kovalev then defended his WBO belt against Igor Mikhalkin.

It was Bivol's second defense of the title he was given when Andre Ward vacated it upon retirement.

Barrera (21-2) was offered a fight first with Kovalev but chose instead to take less money for a shot at Bivol, perhaps counting on his experience over his 27-year-old opponent.

But he had no answer for the champion's speed and accuracy and did well to last as long as he did. His only previous loss had been to Ward.

Bivol wasn't bothered by a cut near the right eye in the second round from what appeared to be a clash of heads that the ringside doctor checked a couple of times in the later rounds but never affected him.

He began to assert control in the fourth, catching Barrera with a left early in the round and following with a flurry of punches and a couple solid hooks. He kept piling up the punches and appeared to have Barrera hurt again in the eight. , then scored again later in the fourth with some solid left hooks.

Barrera fought hard from there but Bivol was just too fast and accurate, and hurt the challenger again in the eighth

Updated March 3, 2018