By Ben Tighe and Jesse Kelley
Photos: Jesse Kelley
Unbeaten Rances Barthelemy (20-0, 13 KOs) scored a second round KO and dethroned IBF junior lightweight champion Argenis Méndez (21-3-1, 11 KOs) on Friday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Barthlemy dropped Mendez near the end of round two, then connected with a clean combination after the bell that knocked Menedez out. Time was 2:59. After the fight, promoter Mike Tyson said Barthlemy clearly hit his man twice after the bell, and stated he would call for a rematch.
The first round started slowly, with Mendez being respectful and tentative and Barthelemy testing the waters and evidently laying a trap. After some soft jabbing and unexpectedly passive behavior, Barthelemy erupted about halfway through the first round with a ferocious attack that hurt Mendez. In the second, Mendez was initially more active and tried to regain the initiative, but Barthelemy remained in control. Finally Barthelemy exploded again and knocked Mendez down. Then the end of the second was the beginning of controversy, as Barthelemy threw a right and a left well after the bell, and knocked Mendez out. Though the referee and the TV audience didn’t hear the bell, numerous ringside observers and at least one IBF official in attendance confirmed to Fightnews that the knockout punch was thrown significantly after the chime. Most up-to-date word is that an appeal will be heard by the IBF.
In the first televised fight of 2014, hometown middleweight favorite Caleb “Golden” Truax (23-1-1, 14 KOs) and Ossie “The Ghanaian Gladiator” Duran (28-11-3, 11 KOs) battled to a hard fought ten round draw. Judges scored it 95-95 on all cards.
Duran proved once again to be a tough and experienced veteran, as he frustrated Truax with his tight defense and punishing jab. Truax dealt with a blood smeared nose but maintained an aggressive attitude throughout. Despite the aggressiveness, he wasn’t able to penetrate Duran’s defense with consistency. Truax did however have his moments, particularly in the mid to later rounds. Truax was being out jabbed but was busier for the most part and landed a higher volume of power shots in the bout. Truax said afterwards that he felt he won a close decision but gives credit to Duran’s tricky and tight defense. Duran said, “I did everything I needed to do to win this fight but they took it from me”.
In a clash between unbeaten jr middleweights, Javontae Starks (8-0, 5 KOs) scored a six round split decision over Limberth Ponce (6-1, 4 KOs). Starks dropped Ponce in round two and won by scores of 57-56, 57-56 Starks, 57-56 Ponce. The match sometimes looked like a boxing match, other times a war. Starks is a beautiful boxer with a strong right hand, while Ponce, in a pinch, would resort to brawling tactics to sway the action his way.
Adrian Martinez (2-0-1) defeated Trevor Marmon (1-1-1) in a rematch of their September 21st draw. The first match between the two was a crowd-pleasing slugfest with an inconclusive conclusion, but this one brought a decisive result. Marmon started out strong and aggressive, but Martinez’s strong leads and counters sapped his strength and Marmon ran completely out of gas (and verticality) in the third. The result was a 3rd round TKO, per world-class referee Mark Nelson.
Dennis Galarza, a 21 year old whippet from Orlando, whipped Celiel Castillo in another four-rounder. Castillo was much shorter than Galarza, and looked physically very soft. Galarza knocked Castillo down in the first and maintained his dominance for the duration, finishing up with 40-35 scores across the board. Galarza improved his record to 2-0 while Castillo chalked up a loss in his professional debut.
Welterweight prospect Erickson Lubin (2-0, 2 KOs) blew away Luis Santiago (4-1, 1 KO) in 61 seconds. Lubin was considered a top medal candidate for the 2016 Olympics before being signed by Iron Mike Productions. Erickson Lubin wasted no time in thrashing his opponent, Luis Santiago. Lubin, with a wedge-shaped shock of hair atop his head, hammered his unfortunate opponent for one minute before taking him out at 1:01 of the first. It was Santiago ‘s first loss after four wins to inaugurate his professional career. Lubin advanced to 2-0 with 2 KOs , and more to come if he continues to perform as he did tonight.
Lightweight prospect Tony Lee improved to 9-1 with 3 knockouts by gutting out a punishing unanimous decision against Willshaun Boxley, now 6-9 with 4 kayos. Lee is a disciplined and cautious boxer, while Boxley is a flamboyant boxer-puncher who started his career 5-0 and has been in freefall ever since. Boxley hadn’t fought in nearly two years, and was fighting over ten pounds above his ideal weight, but he showed guts and determination in his bout against a man who held nearly many advantages including height and activity. Boxley’s only advantage was power in the shots he threw, but it wasn’t enough to make Lee pay. Lee boxed well, and punished Boxley with a hard and insistent jabs particularly as the bout played on.
Damien Hill improved to 2-3 while pinning Nate Richardson (now 1-1) with his first loss. Richardson possesses plenty of aggression and toughness, but Hill landed more accurate punches which made the difference.