The IBF has ordered an immediate rematch for Rances "Kid Blast" Barthelemy and Argenis Mendez, who suffered a controversial second-round knockout loss to Barthelemy on Jan. 3 in Minneapolis that was later ruled a no-decision.
Mendez was restored as junior lightweight titleholder after his loss was overturned and ruled a no-decision by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, which determined that Barthelemy's bout-ending blow had landed after the bell.
"On January 30, 2014 the IBF was notified that the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry had ruled the January 3, 2014 IBF junior lightweight championship fight between Argenis Mendez and Rances Barthelemy a no decision," read a statement from the IBF.
"Based on this ruling the IBF is ordering a rematch of the IBF junior ljr. lightweight championship mandatory defense. The promoters for both fighters have been notified and have until March 3, 2014 to reach an agreement. If they are unable to reach an agreement by then, the IBF will call for a purse bid to determine who will promote the bout."
In short, "We ordered Mendez and Barthelemy to commence negotiations immediately," wrote IBF President Daryl Peoples, in a text message to RingTV.com. "If an agreement is not reached by March 3, we will order a purse bid."
His appeal through attorney Pat English having been validated, Mendez and his manager, Jose Nunez, both indicated that they were amenable to a rematch with Barthelemy during an interview with RingTV.com.
"I'm very, very happy that Minnesota was fair, and, as well, I'm excited. I actually want to give this guy Barthelemy a rematch, and I want it to be in Minnesota as well, because these guys were so fair with me," said Mendez, whose promoter is Mike Tyson. "I wasn't sure that they were going to play fair ball, but they've been great. They have been straight with me, so I want to return to Minnesota and do the rematch in Minnesota."
Although angered that he is no longer the titleholder, Barthelemy welcomes the chance to face Mendez once again.
"First off, I could not disagree more. This decision to take away my title is a terrible one. The referee did not call a foul that night, so how can a commissioner over-rule him by watching TV, weeks later? I am better stronger and more talented than him and I knocked him out. Now I have to do it again," said Barthelemy, in a prepared statement.
"If they put me in the ring with Mendez again, I will hurt him again They haven't done him any favors by making him fight me again. His legs were going weak with every punch I even touched him with. And now I know exactly how to get to him, so it'll be even worse next time. I was glad he survived to fight another day, but he is making a mistake fighting me again."
Mendez's complaint, also filed with the IBF, contended that referee Peter Podgorski "was not in position to immediately separate the fighters at the time the bell initially rang to end the round," and asked for an immediate rematch, if not, a no-decision.
"First of all, it's ludicrous that my fighter trains hard, does nothing wrong, and becomes world champion only to have an inexperienced Commission unilaterally take his win away without a hearing. Rances is the champion of the world everywhere but in the eyes of the revered boxing body called the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry," said DeCubas.
"There is a reason there are not more world title fights in that state. There's no instant replay in boxing in Minnesota. If the rules were interpreted improperly, the commission can change the outcome. However, the referee didn't do that. The referee did not rule that a foul was committed that night, so how can a commission in an office play second referee weeks later? That's not fixing a misinterpretation, that's acting as a second referee and it sets a very dangerous precedent in boxing."
Although Barthelemy (19-0, 12 knockouts) had dropped Mendez (21-2-1, 11 KOs) once prior to the stoppage, the knockout appeared to be the result of a punch that landed after the bell ending the second round. A flattened Mendez was counted out by Podgorski officially at the mark of 2:59.
Commissioner Ken B. Peterson determined that the bout should be a no-decision.
In his letter, Peterson wrote that Podgorski's "ruling that Mr. Mendez had been legally knocked out was inadvertent through what can only be considered human error," adding that Podgorski "acknowledges that he was getting into position, but the bell sounded while he was circling so his decision was based upon what he could hear and see at the time."
Margules, of Warriors' Boxing, believes that a rematch is a bad idea — for Mendez.
"Rances couldn't miss this guy. They're leading him to another ugly knockout. In fact, if that fight proved anything, it's that there's not a 130-pound champion or contender in the world that can contend with my guy…I know commissioner Ken Peterson thinks he's doing the right thing, but he does not understand the rules of boxing that requires only the referee to call a foul. The referee did not do that and the KO Rances earned in the ring should stand," said Margules.
"Now Rances will just give Argenis Mendes another ass-whipping. Barthelemy is at a point in his career where he is improving every day and would beat any fighter in the world at his weight. Hopefully the television networks recognize what a great talent he is, and how this horrendous reversal in Minnesota impacted him financially, and as they have done in the past with other fighters, who were wronged, give Rances Barthelemy the chance to prove he is indeed the best in the world at his or any weight."
"I dare any 130-pound fighter in the world to get in the ring with me," said Barthelemy. "I have developed my skills to the point where I am the best boxer in the world at my weight. What happened to Mendez was just the first of many."