Rances Barthelemy (20-0, 13 KOs) is the new IBF junior lightweight champion after a controversial second round knockout over Argenis Mendez (21-3-1, 11 KOs) at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota last night.
The card was the season opener of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights series.
The bout started slowly. Both fighters tried to establish their jabs. Barthelemy looked a tad quicker. He rocked Mendez with a double hook at the halfway point of the round. He soon had Mendez on the ropes and unloaded a barrage of punches. Mendez hung on for dear life. A stinging jab and left hook to the midsection shook him again.
In round two, Mendez tried to get off first. He went to the body and head of Barthelemy, but still looked sluggish. Barthelemy took his time and measured Mendez. His confidence was overflowing. Mendez was doing better until the last seconds of the round. Another double left hook knocked him back a step. Barthelemy quickly followed up with a right left combination that put Mendez on the seat of his pants. The defending champion pulled himself up at the count of eight. Barthelemy fired a combination as the bell rang, but continued to throw punches as the referee was out of position. A sweeping left landed well after the bell, knocked Mendez on his back. He struggled multiple times to get up, but could not.
The time was 2:59 on round two.
Promoter Mike Tyson said after the fight that he would seek a rematch.
“Rances is a great fighter, there’s no doubt about it,” said Tyson. “But Mendez was hit after the bell.“
Local favorite Caleb “Golden” Truax (23-1-1, 14 KOs) was held to a draw by cagey veteran Ossie “The Ghanaian Gladiator” Duran (28-11-3, 11 KOs) over ten rounds. Truax started slowly, but began to warm-up as the fight progressed. Duran used guile and experience to steal some of the later rounds.