On Target in Minneapolis

By Robert Ecksel on January 4, 2014
On Target in Minneapolis
"Rances is a great fighter, there's no doubt about it. But [my fighter] was hit after the bell."

IBF super featherweight championship Argenis Mendez (21-3-1, 11 KOs) lost his title in controversial fashion to Rances Barthelemy (20-0, 13 KOs)...

Friday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the 2014 boxing season got underway on ESPN2 with a bang followed by a whimper.

In the main event, IBF super featherweight championship Argenis Mendez (21-3-1, 11 KOs), from Brooklyn by way of San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic, lost his title in controversial fashion to Rances Barthelemy (20-0, 13 KOs), from Miami via Arroyo Naranjo, Cuba, by a second-round knockout.

The undefeated Barthelemy established his superiority right out of the gate. He rocked Mendez with an uppercut followed by a double left hook less than a minute in and dazed the Dominican again before the round ended. Mendez’s slow start may have been strategic. But more likely, Barthelemy had Mendez’s number. He landed 20 punches to 3 for Mendez in the opening stanza.

Barthelemy dropped Mendez in the second with another double left hook. It was the first time Mendez was on the canvas. It would not be the last. As the round wound down, Barthelemy landed another left that shook his opponent. Then the bell sounded—at which point a one-two knocked Mendez down and out for good.

The referee, the usually reliable Pete Podgorski, wasn’t in position to jump between the two fighters. If he had been in position, he might have been knocked down and out as well. As it was, that ignominy fell to Mendez. Podgorski, by contrast, simply felt the heat.

The official time of the stoppage was 2:59.

Mendez’s promoter, Mike Tyson of Iron Mike Productions, plans to lodge a complaint with the IBF.

“We’re going after the rematch,” said Tyson, looking and sounding like every promoter since the beginning of time. “Rances is a great fighter, there’s no doubt about it. But [my fighter] was hit after the bell.”

In the post-fight interview, Barthelemy was more than willing to grant Tyson his wish.

“I would be happy to give him a rematch,” he said. “I want to fight the best. It doesn’t matter who it is.”

In the co-main, local sensation Caleb Truax (23-1-1, 14 KOs) looked less than sensational fighting 36-year-old Ossie Duran (28-11-3, 11 KOs), a Ghanaian fighting out of Paterson, New Jersey, to a draw after 10 rounds.

Truax got off a slow start. Duran, a late replacement for Derek Ennis, wasn’t as shopworn as advertised and used his experience and fists to bust Caleb’s nose in the early going.

The Minnesota native was more effective in the second half of the fight. He put his punches together and evened the score as the fight drew to a close, even though Duran managed to steal a couple more rounds.

When the decision was announced as a draw, the partisan crowd, dismissive of the verdict, erupted with a chorus of boos.

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  1. Darrell 02:11am, 01/08/2014

    Only in the interests of fairness would a rematch be warranted…..Mendez was given a jolly good hiding!  I can’t see him winning another prospective bout against Barthelemy, who simply has much too much.

  2. Jim Crue 08:10am, 01/06/2014

    I live in Minneapolis..I was astonished that Truax did not get the decision. Minnesota boxing has a long history of favoring local fighters. Nice kid but he can’t fight a lick. Knowing Minnesota boxing I was thinking Duran was not giving it his best.

  3. Ted 12:30pm, 01/04/2014

    Kid Blast would have sent Mendez down and out in the next round anyway, so I have no issue whatsoever with the KO. IMO, the outcome of the fight was already sealed by the first knockdown.

    That said, the only practical remedy will be a rematch. Blast has the crown and no one will take it away from him. Another Cuban defector who has made it.

  4. Clarence George 08:00am, 01/04/2014

    As I posted on Gordon Marino’s article, Barthelemy’s win isn’t so much controversial as illusory.  He threw and landed blows after the bell, which renders them invalid and illicit.  He may as well have hit Mendez with a blackjack while he stepped out of his car to get to the ring.

    Truax was pretty bad—fought as though an anesthetic was barely beginning to wear off.

    The only one I liked, even though he lost, was Limberth Ponce—a little tank of a fighter.

  5. Ted 07:27am, 01/04/2014

    Mendez did the Trevor Berbick 3-step and then added a 4th.

  6. bk don 07:09am, 01/04/2014

    If you ask me the first Mendez knockdown was from a combination where the first punch was clearly below the belt line. The referee was responsible for breaking up the fighters at the bell and simply didn’t do his job. With that said, Barthelemy clearly was better prepared for this fight and was the superior fighter last night. Kudos to him for winning the IFB strap and I would like to see a rematch if possible.  Not a bad start to the new year!

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