Sullivan Barrera enters his gym in Boca Raton. He only comes in for a light session, taking it easy after weeks of grueling training with coach Derik Santos. He is preparing for his March 3 fight against Dmitry Bivol for the WBA Light Heavyweight Championship of the World. Usually he hits the track first thing in the morning. Three times a week he runs for up to five miles. On the other weekdays, he is doing sprints. In the afternoons he heads to the gym, sparring every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Every other day, he is doing strength and conditioning.

Sullivan prepares meticulously for his first world title fight, mentioning that he wants to do everything “the right way.” That is why he has hired boxer and nutritionist Chris Algieri to help him with his diet: “The healthy food makes my body ready for everything” and says he has no struggles making the light heavyweight limit of 175 pounds this time. With three weeks to go before the fight, he wakes up only three pounds heavier than that.

But this weekend, he gives his body and mind the first rest in weeks, visiting a spa and only putting in recovery sessions. After arriving at the gym, he sits down to watch some of his stable mates sparring, giving advice in between rounds. With coach Derik Santos, he has watched “a lot of tape on Bivol.” He respects his Russian opponent but views his experience as a key factor: “He is a good fighter but he hasn’t fought anyone like me. That’s a hard test for Bivol.” Santos further explains the gap in experience: “Bivol is looking good in his fights but it almost seems as if he was boxing alone in that ring. He hasn’t faced a real opponent yet.” Sullivan Barrera however, has overcome tough opposition in his recent fights, beating the likes of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Joe Smith and Felix Valera and is proud that the only man to hand him a loss was Andre Ward, widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter at the time.

While the game plan remains a secret, Sullivan Barrera knows the key to beating Bivol: “He is young, he has speed. If I control his speed, I can beat Dmitry Bivol easy.” Santos is confident his fighter pulls off the victory but knows they have a difficult task at hand: “If he beats Sullivan, I give him all the credit. Then he is the real deal. But he has not proven it yet.” Barrera has clearly proven both his skills and his heart, climbing off the canvas against his last three opponents to later win the fights.

The Cuban fighter continues his training, doing light pad work and bag sessions. He works the speed bag and finishes with core exercises before calling it a day. He knows that on Monday his training camp will go back into full swing, with some more grueling sessions ahead before flying out to New York to face Dmitry Bivol for the chance to capture the WBA light heavyweight crown on March 3 in Madison Square Garden.