Former three-time light heavyweight world titlist Sergey Kovalev will return to the ring on April 25 to fight for the first time since Canelo Alvarez brutally knocked him out and took his belt last fall.
Kovalev will face longtime light heavyweight contender Sullivan Barrera in a 12-round cruiserweight fight contracted at 180 pounds, five over the light heavyweight limit, in the main event of a stacked Golden Boy Promotions card on DAZN.
The card also will feature four world title bouts — with boxers from four different continents — at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
Kovalev wrote on social media on Wednesday that the fight had been signed and later said, “I am happy to get back in the ring and to be on my way back to world championship bouts. Barrera is a Cuban fighter and, even though I never faced any Cuban fighters as a professional, back in amateur days it was always Russian boxers competing with Cuban boxers, so I’m looking forward to remembering my amateur boxing. I’m very glad to be back and to bring my boxing to my fans on April 25.”
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter and Barrera’s former promoter, who is working with Golden Boy on the fight, added, “Because Sullivan Barrera spent most of his professional career with Main Events, a fight between Kovalev and Barrera is something that we naturally anticipated would happen for a very long time. And so here we are! This is a really solid fight between two action fighters who have never turned down a challenge.”
On Nov. 2, Alvarez, who moved up two weight classes from middleweight, was locked in a very close fight with Kovalev before knocking him out in the 11th round. Part of Kovalev’s deal for the fight with Alvarez was that in the event of a loss he would be guaranteed a seven-figure comeback fight by DAZN.
A win over Barrera will guarantee Kovalev a second and final comeback fight on DAZN.
Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KOs), 36, a Russia native fighting out of Los Angeles, will go into the fight facing serious ongoing legal issues. He was arrested in June 2018 in connection with an incident at a party in Big Bear Lake, California, in which he allegedly punched a woman in the face, broke her nose, gave her a concussion and displaced a disk in her neck after she rejected his sexual advances. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted of a felony assault charge. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is scheduled to begin later this year.
Former world title challenger Barrera (22-3, 14 KOs), 38, a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, is aiming to rebound from a 10-round decision loss to Jesse Hart last June. He got the fight with Kovalev over former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, who was also considered and had been approved by DAZN.
“This will be the most important fight of my career because I have always pursued a fight with Sergey Kovalev,” Barrera said. “I know that he has to win this fight in order to continue with his career, but the case is the same with me. It is very important to win this fight, which for me would be like becoming a world champion. That’s what it means for me to finally face Kovalev. I also want to thank Golden Boy for believing in me and my team, and for giving us the opportunity that we have always wanted, which is to fight Kovalev.”
Beside the main event, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya said he was excited by the depth of the card.
“For this huge event, we’ll have fighters from four different continents battling it out for world titles from all four sanctioning bodies,” De La Hoya said. “Fans of professional boxing will be treated to a banquet of big fights headlined by Sergey Kovalev versus Sullivan Barrera, along with the returns of world champions such as Patrick Teixeira, Rene and Felix Alvarado, and Chayaphon Moonsri (also known as Wanheng Menayothin).”
In the co-feature, Teixeira (31-1, 22 KOs), 29, a southpaw from Brazil, will make the first defense of his junior middleweight world title against mandatory challenger Brian Castano (16-0-1, 12 KOs), 30, of Argentina.
“I am very happy and excited to defend my world title for the very first time,” said Teixeira, who recently signed a contract extension with Golden Boy. “I worked very hard to become a world champion, and I won’t let anyone take that away from me. I know that Castano, as my mandatory challenger, is tough and experienced, but my team and I are more than ready to go to war and deliver a great performance.”
Teixeira won a vacant interim 154-pound world title by unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Carlos Adames on Nov. 30, in a tremendous action fight in which Teixeira overcame major trouble to drop Adames in the seventh round for what turned out to be the winning margin. The following week, Teixeira was elevated from interim titlist to the full titleholder when Jaime Munguia, as expected, vacated the title in order to move up to middleweight.
Castano is a former secondary junior middleweight world titlist who made two successful defenses. But last June he was stripped of the belt for not signing to face mandatory challenger Michel Soro.
Junior lightweight world titlist Rene Alvarado (32-8, 21 KOs), 31, of Nicaragua, and twin brother and junior flyweight world titlist Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30 KOs) will defend their titles on the same card. Rene Alvarado knocked out Andrew Cancio in the seventh round in November to win a 130-pound title and will make his first defense against Roger Gutierrez (24-3-1, 20 KOs), 24, of Venezuela, who has won five fights in a row.
Felix Alvarado, who signed with Golden Boy last month, will make the second defense of his 108-pound world title against former strawweight titlist DeeJay Kriel (16-1-1, 8 KOs), 24, of South Africa. Kriel won his strawweight belt in February 2018 by 12th-round knockout of Carlos Licona but never defended, instead vacating in order to move up in weight.
Menayothin (54-0, 18 KOs), 34, of Thailand, who boasts the longest active unbeaten streak in boxing, will defend his strawweight world title for the 13th time when he squares off with Marco John Rementizo (12-3, 9 KOs), 20, of the Philippines. Menayothin signed with Golden Boy late last year and the fight will be his first outside of Thailand.
Also on the card:
• Former junior lightweight world titlist Alberto Machado (22-2, 18 KOs), 29, of Puerto Rico, will face fellow southpaw Cristian Baez (18-1, 17 KOs), 28, of Venezuela, in a 10-round lightweight fight. Machado is seeking his second win in a row since moving up in weight after losing his title by knockout to Cancio and then getting knocked out again in the immediate rematch last June.
• Junior featherweight Diego De La Hoya (22-1, 10 KOs), 25, of Mexico, a first cousin of Oscar De La Hoya, will face Manuel “Tino” Avila (23-2-1, 8 KOs), 27, of Fairfield, California, in a 10-rounder.
• Middleweight Shane Mosley Jr. (15-3, 9 KOs), 29, of Pomona, California, the son of former three-division world champion and 2020 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Shane Mosley Sr., will have his first fight since signing with Golden Boy last month. He will face Abraham Cordero (13-5-2, 7 KOs), 25, of Mexico, in an eight-rounder.
• Junior featherweight Hector Valdez (12-0, 8 KOs), 24, of Dallas, will face an opponent to be determined in an eight-round bout.