On January 3rd undefeated top Jr. Lightweight contender Rances Barthelemy challenging IBF world Jr. Lightweight champion Argenis Mendez for the championship in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Originally Barthelemy was declared the winner via second round knockout over Mendez. This result however, would be changed to a no decision as it was ruled that the combination landed by Barthelemy that resulted in the end of the fight landed after the bell rung to end the second round.
With the results of that fight changed and with the IBF title returned to Mendez per the bout being ruled a no decision, a rematch between the two would take place. In the rematch, which took place on July 10th in Miami, Florida, Barthelemy would score a convincing twelve round unanimous decision over Mendez to win the title.
Nearly three months to the day of his winning a world title, Barthelemy would make the first defense of his IBF crown against the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) number three rated contender Fernando Saucedo on October 4th at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. For twelve rounds Barthelemy simply dominated the fight. Barthelemy’s well-balanced offense to the body and head, accuracy, and precision timing were the story of this fight. The “Game” challenger never stopped trying to turn the fight in his favor, but he was simply outclassed by the champion.
What impressed me about Barthelemy’s performance in this fight was how he paced himself throughout the contest. Barthelemy was clearly the more active and more accurate of the two fighters, but it was a fight where his elusiveness in being able to avoid much of Saucedo’s offense by using his lateral movement was as much a part of the story as his ability to be crisp and accurate with his offense.
Saucedo was aggressive throughout much of this fight, but he could not find a way to avoid Barthelemy’s hand speed and ability to counter punch. Although this fight did not provide much drama and excitement, it was still an impressive performance by a world champion in his first title defense.
With his first title defense now in his rearview mirror, the question is what may be in store for Rances Barthelemy as 2015 approaches? Assuming that Barthelemy will not fight another opponent before the end of 2014, I believe that a logical opponent for him in the new year would be the winner of the upcoming IBF Jr. Lightweight elimination bout between current number two contender Michael Farenas and number six rated contender Jose Pedraza, which will take place on November 14th in Puerto Rico.
If a mandatory defense is not what is next for Barthelemy fighters such as former world champions Orlando Salido, Billy Dib, and top contenders Romain Jacob, Francisco Vargas, and Diego Magdaleno might all be considered as potential options. There is of course the possibility of potential unification fights that might interest Barthelemy with the other champions of the division like WBC champion Takashi Mira, WBO champion Mikey Garcia, and WBA champion Takashi Uchiyama.
For now this observer believes that it might be more likely that Barthelemy will take on a top contender before a potential unification bout could be discussed. It is clear however, with three impressive performances in world championship fights in 2014, Rances Barthelemy has established himself as a central figure in the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division. It will be interesting to see where Barthelemy goes from here.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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