Top trainer Abel Sanchez is convinced Cuban star Sullivan Barrera has all the tools to end pound for pound star Andre Ward’s undefeated run when the pair meet in Oakland this weekend.
Sanchez, who also trains Gennady Golovkin to great effect, takes Barrera, also undefeated, into battle at the Oracle Arena knowing victory for the 34 year-old will lead to a massive clash with divisional ruler Sergey Kovalev.
“The Andre Ward that we’ve watched in the past we haven’t seen lately,” said Sanchez.
“But the best that I can do is prepare Sullivan to take what’s given to him, to take what’s in front of him. Sullivan has a style that is from the – I meant to say from part of the Cuban school and part of my school. The attacking style that he has now and the knockouts that he has now are some of the stuff that we practice in the gym.
“I wasn’t trying to change his Cuban style, what I was trying to do is make him a little more aggressive. I wanted to make him stick out his punches a little more and have better balance. I wanted a little better positioning and technique with his legs. By adding the two styles together it gives us more opportunity for him to do what he has to do.”
“It’s just a matter of going at Andre and taking what he gives us but not to let Andre breathe.”
Asked whether Barrera’s record of never having gone past eight rounds would be detrimental to him on Saturday night, Sanchez added: “You know, all coaches that have that level fighters, we always train for 14, 15 rounds. We never train for 12. It’s just a matter of making sure that we convince him and we take care of him in the corner so that he can continue to perform at the level that he does at the beginning of the fight.
“Barrera has never been that distance but there’s always a first time. We’ll see how he reacts. It’s up to us to keep him calm,” he added.