By Tyson Bruce
Minneapolis, Minnesota- Last year’s season of Friday Night Fight’s began with the stench of controversy when Rances Barthelemy was rewarded with a controversial decision over Arash Usmanee. As tradition would have it controversy was also a part of this season’s debut, albeit by very different circumstances, as Barthelemy scored an after the bell knockout of the defending champion Argenis Mendez.
The bout started out in explosive fashion, as both Barthelemy and Mendez tested one another from the start of the first round. Although going into the bout it was Mendez that was regarded as the more explosive puncher, Barthelemy stunned Mendez with a quick left hook that snuck in through his guard. Barthelemy used his exceptional 82 inch reach (that’s longer than most light heavyweight’s) to rake a shell shocked Mendez with a variety of combinations for the remainder of the round.
Mendez began the second round with more purpose, as he attempted to close the distance with Barthelemy. He landed some good body shots but always seemed wary of Barthelemy’s lethal counter attack. Barthelemy responded by using his surprisingly adept inside game to land a digging left hook to the body followed by three more quick lefts to head that put Mendez down for the first time in his career. Mendez was clearly hurt and struggled to beat referee Pete Podgorski’s count.
This is when the controversy began. As Barthelemy pursued Mendez for the knockout, he unleashed a vicious left hook that clearly landed after the bell. Although this is a serious violation of the official rules, two things were clear on the replay: that neither Barthelemy, Mendez, or the referee seemed aware that the bell had rung and referee Podgorski, not Barthelemy, appeared more at fault. When the warning bell for the last ten seconds of a round sounds a referee is supposed to close the distance between he and the two fighters in order to separate them at the bell. Podgorski was clearly too far away and as result Barthelemy, who may not have heard the bell, continued his attack. The punch he landed, a left hook, was right on the button and Mendez went down in a heap.
It’s always unfortunate when a bout ends in controversy, but if we put this into perspective Barthelemy was well on his way to ending the bout anyway. Had Mendez dropped his hands at the end of the round and then been hit there would have been more to complain about. However, he, like Barthelemy, appeared unaware of the rounds conclusion. It was a devastating performance by Rances Barthelemy, who clearly puts the stench of his controversial win last year behind him. With his exceptional size, speed, and punching power he will pose a formidable challenge to any junior lightweight in the world.
Hometown favorite Caleb Truax (23-1-1, 14 KOs) and journeyman Ossie Duran (28-11-3, 11 KOs) battled to a hard fought ten round draw. Judges scored it 95-95 on all cards, the same score as Boxing Insider.