Over the last year undefeated world champion Rances Barthelemy has quickly established himself as one of Boxing’s rising stars. Barthelemy emerged on the scene in January 2014 with a title shot against IBF Jr. Lightweight world champion Argenis Mendez in Minneapolis, MN. A fight that was originally ruled a second round knockout in favor of Barthelemy, was changed to a no contest due to the combination thrown by Barthelemy, which ultimately knocked Mendez out landing after the bell had rung to end the round.
Despite the bout ending in controversial fashion and Mendez retaining his world championship by way of the fight being ruled a no contest, Barthelemy would convincingly put any and all controversy to rest in their rematch in July 2014. Barthelemy would walk out of his second encounter with Mendez having been declared the new champion for the second time. Unlike the first fight between the two however, this time the result would stand as Barthelemy scored a convincing twelve round unanimous decision to win the first world championship of his career.
Following the rematch with Mendez Barthelemy’s star continued to rise as he successfully defended his title in October 2014 with a twelve round unanimous decision over Fernando Saucedo. Barthelemy’s reign as the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) Jr. Lightweight world champion would not last long as he quickly set his sights on the 135lb. Lightweight division.
In his Lightweight debut Barthelemy scored a second round knockout of veteran Angino Perez in March of this year. This would lead to his encounter against former WBC Lightweight world champion Antonio DeMarco three months later. As has been the case since his first bout against Argenis Mendez, Barthelemy dominated the action and scored a convincing ten round unanimous decision over the always “Game” DeMarco.
With two successful victories in the Lightweight division under his belt, Barthelemy fought for the vacant IBF Lightweight world championship on December 18th against IBF number one contender Denis Shafikov in Las Vegas, NV. In what was a competitive fight from start to finish, Barthelemy overcame an aggressive Shafikov to earn a hard-fought twelve round unanimous decision to claim his second world title in as many weight classes.
It is clear that in nearly two years since emerging on the scene that Rances Barthelemy has established himself as a fighter to watch having now claimed world titles in two different divisions. An interesting question that some might ask as 2016 approaches however, just might be what potential options may be available to Barthelemy in the 135lb. Lightweight division?
Having won all twenty-four of his fights as a professional, having scored knockouts in thirteen of those bouts, and having stopped over half of his opponents inside the distance, Barthelemy should be considered a legitimate threat to any top contender or fellow world champion in the division. Stylistically, Barthelemy has a good mix of hand speed, punching power, and lateral movement which could present an interesting challenge for either of the division’s other four world champions, the WBC world champion Jorge Linares, the WBA world champion Anthony Crolla, the IBO world champion Xolisani Ndongeni, or the WBO world champion Terry Flanagan.
Although the prospect of Barthelemy attempting to unify the Lightweight division is something that should be considered, there is always the possibility that Barthelemy and his handlers may elect to face a top contender for his first title defense rather than seeking unification right away. If that is indeed the case, it is unlikely that Barthelemy would be mandated to face the IBF’s next mandatory contender due to a number one contender not being determined as of this writing.
As has become the norm in the sport particularly whenever a bout for a vacant world championship takes place, the new champion is often entitled to an elective defense against a contender of his choosing while a new mandatory challenger is being determined most likely by way of an elimination bout between a sanctioning organization’s next two highest-rated contenders. If Barthelemy is entitled to an elective defense against a top contender, he certainly has some interesting options to choose from in what has historically been a talent deep Lightweight division.
Potential bouts against the likes of contenders such as the unbeaten Felix Verdejo, Petr Petrov, former Lightweight world champion Miguel Vasquez, and Ivan Redkach just to name a few could all be looked at as potential future opponents for Barthelemy. No matter who Barthelemy will fight next, this observer believes that he remains a fighter to watch as 2016 nears.
Given how quickly Barthelemy has become a world champion in two weight divisions however, this observer also believes that a possibility may also exist that Barthelemy may set his sights on conquering a third weight division which might be the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division. Whether or not Barthelemy will first focus on possibly unifying the Lightweight division remains to be seen, but it is clear that some interesting storylines may lie ahead for the undefeated two-division world champion in 2016.
“And That’s the Boxing Truth.”
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