Yan Barthelemy lately has spent more time supporting his younger brother Rances’ rising career than focusing on his own plans.
In fact, Barthelemy, who along with fellow Cuban boxing teammates Yuriorkis Gamboa and Odlanier Solis made a highly chronicled escape from their native country six years ago, has been Rances’ most vocal cheerleader. Yan waved a large Cuban flag and led Rances into the ring for his main event bout against Arash Usmanee last Friday at the Magic City Casino.
Although he didn’t work Rances’ corner, a worried Yan stood nearby, yelling instructions and encouragement as his brother’s fight became agonizingly dangerous with each passing round. Rances Barthelemy escaped a final-round flurry from Usmanee and won a disputed unanimous decision.
“He started the first three rounds using his height and reach advantage but around the fourth or fifth he changed strategy and preferred to exchange,” Yan said of his brother’s performance. “But overall he got the most out of the production.”
The victory earned Rances Barthelemy the No. 2 junior-lightweight ranking by the International Boxing Federation. The lofty position now provides him a quicker path to a coveted world title fight.
“Hopefully he will be a world champion soon,” Yan Barthelemy said. “He has the tools to become a world champion. I told him when he was younger. He can accomplish whatever he likes.”
Rances Barthelemy’s achievements prompted his older brother to resume his career. Yan Barthelemy, 32, had a busy fight schedule through his first years but has only two bouts in the past 22 months.
A junior featherweight, Barthelemy (12-3, 4 KOs) has not fought since losing a decision against Sahib Usarov last February.
Meanwhile, Barthelemy’s former teammates have fared better as professionals. Gamboa has won two world featherweight titles and his high-octane performances endear him to the TV networks. Solis landed an unsuccessful title opportunity against heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko.
“I am going to continue fighting,” Barthelemy said. “I retired for a while because of personal situations but now my brother has inspired me. Before it was me inspiring him and now it is the other way around.”
Last Friday’s show at Magic City Casino was the first in the venue’s indoor room, Stage 305. Initial reports have been positive, according to Scott Savin, Magi City Casino’s chief operating officer.
“The paid attendance fell just 10-15 seats short of the 800-seat capacity we configured for the room,” Savin said. “We got the comments we were looking for in that there were no bad seats in the house.
“We did a lot of sales the night of the fight. We were a little bit nervous about the pre-fight sales but we understand that walk-up buying is very common in boxing.”
In addition to positive feedback from spectators, Savin said ESPN officials liked the room’s configurations and are receptive to returning for future shows. The network telecast the Barthelemy-Usmanee bout on ESPN2’s first Friday Night Fights telecast of the year.
“Everything we have received from TV has been supportive,” Savin said. “I understand there were people from HBO and Showtime in the audience and they also liked the setting.
“Overall, we had a little of everything – a great venue, competitive fights and some controversy with the scoring in the main event. It made for an eventful evening.”
Three-time world title challenger Steve Forbes will fight in the main event of Saturday night’s card at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. Forbes, who twice unsuccessfully challenged for junior-lightweight belts and once as a welterweight, will face Venezuela’s Johan Perez in a scheduled 10-round welterweight bout.
The Forbes-Perez bout headlines an announced-seven bout show. The card is the first of four scheduled to be presented by Golden Boy Promotions at BB&T Center.