Though the majority of the boxing world believed Rances Barthelemy was ‘uncrowned’ IBF junior lightweight champion, he still had to beat Argenis Mendez cleanly to win the belt for real.
Unlike their first meeting in January, which was eventually declared a no-contest after Mendez was knocked out after the bell, there would be no controversy on this night at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.
Barthelemy clearly outhustled Mendez in nearly every round, earning a unanimous decision win by scores of 115-111 three times.
In the early going, it looked like the night would be quite short, as Barthelemy blitzed Mendez right off the hop, seemingly hurting him early right a right hand to the body.
Instead, it would be a long, dreary one. Mendez went into full-on retreat, and had a puzzlingly low punch output for a man defending a world championship. Indeed, the Dominican-born slickster has always had passive counterpunching instincts, and perhaps his struggles to make the 130 pound weight limit had an effect as well.
The only real drama in the fight, or danger towards Barthelemy was effectively self-inflicted.
“Kid Blast” was penalized for low blows in both the 9th and 10th round, and could have been one more punch below the belt away from a disqualification.
Mendez (21-3-1, 11 knockouts) claims this was his final fight at 130 pounds, as he will venture into the lightweight division.
Barthelemy (20-0, 12 KOs), meanwhile, could make his first title defense against mandatory challenger Michael Farenas.
The co-feature of the night was utterly uncompetitive also, as Umberto Savigne obliterated a shot to pieces version of former world champion Jeff Lacy, stopping him at 2:04 of the second round.
Midway through the first round, the Cuban nailed Lacy with an overhand right, which “Left Hook” complained was a blow behind the head. Savigne rightfully continued fighting while his opponent protested to the referee, and threw a left hook to the body, followed with another sweeping right, sending Lacy face first to the canvas.
Lacy made it out of the round, but never looked stable at any point thereafter. Late in the second frame, he was drilled with a right hand on the jaw, staggered into the corner, and took six unanswered punches from Savigne until referee Samuel Burgos mercifully waved it off.
It’s been almost five years since Lacy was in the American boxing spotlight, losing an independent pay-per-view clash with Roy Jones Jr. in 2009. Earlier this year, the 37-year old Lacy was scheduled to face former amateur standout Artur Beterbiev in Montreal, however the card was cancelled. He had been training in Ontario, Canada, near the Quebec border with Jimmy Hilton.
Savigne, fighting out of Miami, Florida, is currently ranked No. 3 by the WBC at light heavyweight.
In the broadcast opener, blue chip prospect Erickson Lubin was taken the distance for the first time in his professional career, winning an eight round unanimous decision over veteran Noe Bolanos. Scores were 80-72 across the board.
Lubin (6-0, 5 KOs), campaigning at light middleweight, proclaimed he would stop the career lightweight and light welterweight Bolanos inside three rounds. It wasn’t for lack of effort, but the 37-fight veteran was durable and crafty enough to stay on his feet with the youngster until the final bell.
Though he didn’t score the KO, Lubin, Orlando, FL., was no less dominant than he has been throughout his young professional career. The 18 year old showed an impressive offensive variety, albeit against a mostly docile opponent. He continually blasted Bolanos (25-10-1, 16 KOs) with uppercuts, straight lefts, and a healthy dose of hard right hooks.
“I’m gonna put him in with more opponents like this. Next time I’m gonna put him in with a guy who can take punches like this, and will throw some more punches back at him,” said Tyson.