January: Boxing off to a start for 2014


By Jackie Kallen

Now that the holidays are over and the new year is under way, boxing fans are waiting and watching to see what the year will bring. January looks like a fairly slow month, but there is always someone fighting somewhere.

Tonight in Minneapolis, undefeated 19-0 super-featherweight Rances Barthelemy makes a run at the IBF title when he faces 21-2 Argenis Mendez. Mendez won the belt almost a year ago and has successfully defended it twice. Bathelemy is hoping that the title changes hand tonight.

On the same ESPN2 card. Caleb Truax, who has amassed a 23-1-1 record in the super middleweight division, will face veteran Ossie Duran. A win will boost Truax’s stock, while a defeat would surely lessen his value.

Junior Middleweight Javontae Sparks puts his flawless 7-0 record against undefeated 6-0 Limberth Ponce. It’s always risky when two prospects face each other so early in their careers.

There’s another good super featherweight fight a week later on January 10 in Tacoma. 20-1 Arash Usmanee steps up against Juan Antonio Rodriguez for a 10-round battle. Usmanee’s only loss was to Rances Barthelemy exactly a year ago in Miami. Rodriguez is a Mexican boxer who has never before fought in the US.

Also on the card is light welterweight Zahir Raheem, who at 37, is nearing the final days of his career. He will be squaring off against 31-year old Mongolian boxer Bayan Jargal. Jargal, once a promising up-and-comer, got stopped in the third round last year against Chris Howard at Mohegan Sun. That became his fouth loss, somewhat talking the bloom off the flower. A win would be good for him.

Here in Detroit, also on the 10th, Leonardo Tyner (30-8-2) will try for the WBU welterweight title when he takes on 16-12-1 Angel Hernandez. Both men have been around the boxing game for a long time. Tyner has been in with guys like Lamont Peterson and Canelo Alvarez. Hernandez has fought the likes of Derek Gainer. They have a total of 79 fights between them. No matter who wins, either man will be proud to wear a belt.

Also on that card, 39 year-old journeyman Rico Hoye will lace on the gloves once again. Prior to his November fight in Milwaukee, Hoye hadn’t fought in four years. As of now, his opponent is TBA.

On the 17th, Showtime brings us a show from Memphis featuring unbeaten lightweight Ivan Redkach (15-0) against 17-1 Tony Luis. At 27 years old, the Ukranian lightweight Redkach has knocked out 13 of his 15 opponents. The southpaw is right up there with GGG in the KO ranks. He is an exciting future champ who is certainly someone to keep an eye on.

Let’s see how the rest of the month shapes up as January leads us into a new year for boxing.

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