Junior lightweight contender Rances Barthelemy is not a happy camper.
On Jan. 3, he knocked out Argenis Mendez in the second round of a dominant performance to win a 130-pound world title at the Target Center in Minneapolis. It was a terrific performance.
The problem was that the punches that ended the fight came after the bell sounded to end the second round. Barthelemy didn’t hit Mendez after the bell on purpose, but he did hit him after the bell, although referee Pete Podgorski did not rule the punches as an accidental foul. Instead, he counted Mendez out.
Mendez appealed the decision to Minnesota authorities. Earlier this week, they ruled in his favor, overturning the result to a no decision. That gave Mendez (21-2-1, 11 KOs) the title back.
Naturally, Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KOs), who had legally knocked Mendez down moments before the fight-ending punches, did not agree with the ruling.
"First off, I could not disagree more," Barthelemy said through a translator. “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 overrule 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."
The IBF, whose title was at stake, is likely to order a rematch. Fine by Barthelemy.
"If they put me in the ring with Mendez again, I will hurt him again," Barthelemy said. "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."
Luis DeCubas Sr., Barthelemy's co-promoter, was just as up in arms as the fighter about the ruling.
"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," said DeCubas, failing to mention that they have 30 days to appeal the ruling and get a full 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."
DeCubas also forgot to mention that the IBF also no longer recognizes him as a titleholder, nor would anyone else who comprehends the rules.
In any event, DeCubas went on with his rant.
"There is a reason there are not more world title fights in that state," he said. "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."
Regardless, Barthelemy will get another title opportunity, be it in a rematch with Mendez or somebody else if Mendez decides not to take it.
"I dare any 130-pound fighter in the world to get in the ring with me," he said. "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."