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Friday Night Fights: ‘Barthelemy vs. Mendez’ Fight Review

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Friday Night Fights Returns and So Does the Controversy

On Friday, ESPN 2 kicked off their new season of Friday Night Fights from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. The main event pitted local unbeaten prospect Rances Barthelemy (20-0, 13 KOs) against Argenis Mendez (21-3-1, 11KOs) for Mendez’s IBF junior lightweight title. Barthelemy lived up to his nickname of Kid Blast but not without some contention. After all, this is boxing, so it is fitting that the year starts off with a little bit of controversy.

This fight also had a little intrigue going in as Barthelemy’s former trainer, John David Jackson, is now Mendez’s trainer. He told ESPN that he believes Mendez was superior to Barthelemy in every way except power. The great thing about boxing is most of the time that gets answered inside of the ring. However, this one ended up leaving everyone with a very unsettled feeling.

The fight started with both Mendez and Barthelemy going through the feeling out process. They both started to go to the body with their first few authoritative punches. Then back to some jabs and using their footwork and movement to gauge each other. Then at the 1:40 mark, Mendez stepped forward and threw a left hook, right hook combo. Barthelemy, showing tremendous counter punching of his own, doubled up on the left hook to the head that buckled Mendez’s legs as he quickly retreated to the corner. Mendez did a good job of covering up and avoided any more damage right then. During the last-minute of the round Barthelemy started to find his rhythm and worked the body of Mendez over who survived the round. The punch stats confirmed Barthelemy’s dominance in the first round as landed 20 of 57 punches to Mendez’ 3 of 22. That is right, Barthelemy landed almost as many as Mendez threw.

So far the inside info that Mendez’ trainer Jackson was providing him about Barthelemy was not helping him. You are not going to win many fights only landing three punches a round. The second did not go much better for Mendez as Barthelemy used his length and reach effectively to control the action. For the first two and a half minutes of the round it was a nice easy round for Barthelemy and it looked like we were on our way to the third one. Then they had a little exchange of body punches and Mendez also got in a couple shots to the head. He was being more aggressive and had Barthelemy in the corner and suddenly it all changed.

Barthelemy went with a low left hook, then another a little higher up the body and then a third to the head. All three hurt Mendez. Barthelemy followed with a right hook that Mendez ducked and a left hook that caught and dropped him onto the seat of his pants. There were thirteen seconds left in the round. He got up and then things got strange in the closing seconds of the round and a little bit after.

Barthelemy came forward and threw a right to the body that was blocked and a left hook to the head that glanced off of Mendez. The first bell sounded as the left hook landed. Then Barthelemy threw another left hook, right hook and left hook combo that folded Mendez forward like a jackknife and then flat on his back as he went down to the canvas. The last three punches came in between the first bell and the second bells. They were clearly after the bell. The referee gave Mendez a ten count, he could not get back to his feet and the fight was over. Barthelemy was the new champion and we had our first controversy of the year.

Afterwards Menedez was upset with how the fight went down and there will be protests from their side. Even Mike Tyson, who was promoting the event, lamented the KO after the bell. The referee was out of position and was not aware of how little time was left in the round. If the referee had been in position he might have been able to stop it and the bell-ringer was also slow. They had about two seconds between the first and second bell. It is just unfortunate that incompetence from the referee and the person manning the bell affects the fight and its outcome marring another fight. Do not be surprised to see a rematch between these two especially since a title changed hands.

Earlier in the broadcast we got Teddy Atlas’ wish list for the new year and if his ideas were implemented it might do away with some of these problems. Unfortunately the list will probably remain more wish than reality but there is always hope. Here is what he wishes for; 1. Establish a panel to evaluate and sanction the judges. 2. Use the unattached to any promotion Transnational Boxing Rankings who rank fighters based on what they do in the ring. 3. Stop promoter/network exclusivity. There are many things wrong with how it is currently run and ultimately the fans and the sport does not get the great fights they deserve. 4. State commissions establish cornermen code of conduct and he would lie to limit the number of people in the ring before the fight. He also gave a heartfelt wish for all fans to continue to support and pray for Magomed Abdusalamov as he continues to recover from his tragic injury suffered last year in the ring.

cover image via espn.go

An avid lifetime fight fan who loves to write about it. So kick back, get comfortable and let's have some fun! "Wants me to tell him something pretty." Al Sweargen "Going wrong is not the end of fucking things, Johnny. Fuck no! I have comeback from plenty of shit that looked like it was going wrong." Dan Dority "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." Bill Munny

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