Argenis Mendez files formal appeal

Former junior lightweight titlist Argenis Mendez filed a formal appeal on Thursday with Minnesota boxing regulators seeking to have his controversial second-round knockout loss to Rances Barthelemy last Friday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis overturned to a no contest and a 130-pound world title returned to him.

Patrick English, Mendez's attorney, filed the appeal with Matt Schowalter, the executive director of the Combative Sports Office of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, which oversees boxing in the state.

The controversy stems from the brutal end of the fight in which Barthelemy, who had dominated the first two rounds and knocked Mendez down late in the second round, fired multiple punches after the bell rang to end the round, knocking Mendez out. Referee Pete Podgorski did not rule a foul -- although punching after the bell is illegal -- and counted Mendez out. Barthelemy, the mandatory challenger, was awarded the knockout victory and the title.

In the complaint, a copy of which English shared with ESPN.com, the attorney cited the unified rules of boxing, which the bout was contested under. The rules, which govern all world title bouts in the United States, say that "if an accidental foul causes an injury severe enough for the referee to stop the bout immediately, the bout will result in a no decision if stopped before four completed rounds."

Further, the rules specify that "a blow that strikes a boxer after the sounding of the bell is deemed to be a foul that the referee will determine if it was accidental or intentional."

Mendez, who was making his second title defense, does not claim that Barthelemy's punches -- at least two of which were after the bell -- were on purpose, rather accidental and that the result should be a no contest.

"It's pretty simple," English told ESPN.com. "The bell rang and punches were thrown after the bell. Punches after the bell hit Mr. Mendez and the rules say that is a foul. Mr. Mendez was unable to continue. It's very clear that it should be handled as a no contest."

English, who also submitted video of the ESPN2-televised "Friday Nights Fights" season debut main event, said Minnesota has until Jan. 20 to render a decision.

Barthelemy's team was notified of the appeal and will submit its own comments, Warriors Boxing's Leon Margules, Barthelemy's promoter, said Thursday night.

"We have until January 17th to respond," he said. "But the referee is the sole arbiter of the fight. There's no question that Rances was on his way to the knockout victory, and anyone who watched the fight knows that. He was hurt badly even before the knockout.

"Everything has to be evaluated. There is a reason the referee is a sole arbiter of the fight and he made a decision. Do I think he did a good job? I think that he maybe he saved the kid (Mendez) from further punishment. He called the knockout a legal blow. To take my fighter's title away from him that he earned in the ring is wrong."

Usually, a referee positions himself near the fighters after the clapper indicates there are 10 seconds left in a round, so he can immediately separate them when the bell rings.

The appeal, however, pointed out that Podgorski was nowhere near the fighters in the waning seconds of the round and not in position to break them at the bell -- and before Barthelemy fired the knockout punches.

"Mr. Podgorski erred, pure and simple. He had a bad night, with many good ones," English wrote in the appeal. "This protest is a way of rectifying that bad night, not a condemnation."

English also filed an appeal with the IBF, the organization whose title was at stake. English asked that in the event that the Minnesota regulators do not overturn the result of the fight that the organization order an immediate rematch.

The commission is the only body that can change the result while the sanctioning organization can order a rematch.