Rances Barthelemy beats Denis Shafikov via unanimous decision

Unbeaten lightweight Rances Barthelemy routinely gave away his 6-inch height and 5-inch reach advantages against Russia's Denis Shafikov on Friday in order to square up and fight.

In the process, it looked like he was on his way toward giving away the fight.

Helped by a cut above Shafikov's right eye in Round 8 that changed the tenor of the bout, Barthelemy made the key adjustments late and landed the harder shots to outpoint Shafikov and claim his second title in as many divisions.

Barthelemy (24-0, 13 KOs) took home a unanimous decision on judges' scores of 116-112 (twice) and 119-109. ESPN.com scored the bout 115-113 for Barthelemy, a native of Cuba.

The 135-pound title bout headlined a Premier Boxing Champions card from the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

Barthelemy, 29, a former junior lightweight titlist, outlanded Shafikov (36-2-1, 19 KOs) 260 to 228, according to CompuBox, and smartly boxed from distance in the championship rounds in order to seal the victory.

Shafikov, 30, appeared to control the first half of the fight with steady pressure and accurate shots at close range. He also routinely went to the body in the opening rounds.

Barthelemy got off to a sluggish start by routinely switching stances and squaring up into the line of fire. Despite landing the heavier blows, he played right into his opponent's style.

"There were moments where I was trapped into my style of fighting," Barthelemy said through a translator. "It took me a minute to adjust to Shafikov's style and exchange punches with him. I'm really happy with the number of punches I was able to get off."

Unfortunately for Shafikov, he was never the same after suffering the cut, which Barthelemy began to target. Feeling the sense of urgency, Barthelemy repeatedly lined him up with clean left hands in Round 8 and used his footwork and size to avoid Shafikov's pressure.

"I noticed that I cut him, but once the ref stopped the fight to look at the cut, that is when I realized that I was going to be able to use that cut to my advantage for the remainder of the fight," Barthelemy said.

By Round 10, Barthelemy was controlling distance with his jab and finding a home for uppercuts from the outside. He also began to freely showboat and dropped his hands repeatedly without fear of retribution.

"I was really impressed with Shafikov's warrior style," Barthelemy said. "He never gave up even after getting damages and punches that were affecting his fight. That really caught me by surprise and that he was able to last the whole fight.

"The fact that he continued really says something about him as a fighter."

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