Sunday, July 6, 2014

Will Mendez-Barthelemy Rematch Bring Closure To Controversy?

The year 2014 in the sport of Boxing began on January 3rd when IBF Jr. Lightweight world champion Argenis Mendez stepped into the ring to face undefeated number one contender Rances Barthelemy at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Barthelemy’s strength and punching power dictated the action from the opening bell and it appeared as though the champion had no answer for Barthelemy.

Mendez would be dropped twice in the second round, the second of the two knockdowns would cause the fight’s conclusion. Barthelemy knocked Mendez down at the end of the round and the champion was subsequently counted out by Referee Pete Podgorski. What appeared to some as a clear knockout for Rances Barthelemy however, would be overshadowed by controversy.

The controversy that emerged was that the bell to end the second round rang twice, each with a single ding about a second apart. The champion Mendez was not knocked to the canvas until after the bell rang for the second time. This ultimately led to the Minnesota Department Of Labor And Industry to rule the bout a no contest with the International Boxing Federation (IBF) reinstating Mendez as it’s Jr. Lightweight world champion.

Some readers may recall my coverage of this fight back in January when I said it was my hope that the controversy would be resolved as quickly as possible. In a sport where criticisms of those who regulate the sport is all too common, both the commission that oversaw this fight, the Minnesota Department Of Labor And Industry as well as the sanctioning organization, the IBF who’s Jr. Lightweight world title was at stake should both be commended for taking appropriate action in this matter.

This observer however, also stated that the fairest recourse for all involved in my mind would be for the IBF to mandate an immediate rematch between Mendez and Barthelemy. That rematch will take place on July 10th at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.

Normally when there are circumstances that call for an immediate rematch, more often than not the reasoning is likely centered around elements of the scoring of a fight. Obviously, this rematch is different in that some were of the opinion that Barthelemy was on his way to a convincing victory over Mendez regardless of the circumstances of the controversy that emerged.

Barthelemy did control the action when the two men last saw each other in the ring. It would certainly not be hard to see most viewing Barthelemy as a significant favorite as this rematch approaches based on how the first fight was fought. It will be interesting to see whether Barthelemy will be able to control this fight from the outset as he did in the first encounter, or if Mendez will be able to rebound from the knockout.

The winner of this fight will likely face former world title challenger Michael Farenas, who scored an eight round stoppage over previously undefeated Mark Davis last week in an IBF world title elimination bout. Before Farenas can get his shot at the title however, Mendez and Barthelemy will meet to settle unfinished business.

It goes without saying that sometimes in the sport of Boxing what is logical and what can be viewed as a fair solution to a controversy does not always take place. In this case, both Argenis Mendez and Rances Barthelemy have an opportunity to bring an end to a controversy. Will the rematch bring closure to this controversy? We will find out on July 10th.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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