Local world title fights have become non-existent this decade but Rances Barthelemy is headlining the recent events.
Rances Barthelemy, a native of Cuba, will make the first defense of his International Boxing Federation lightweight title Friday against Cleveland’s Mickey Bey at Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena in Hollywood.
Nearly two years after winning a junior-lightweight belt at AmericanAirlines Arena, Barthelemy will make the first defense of his International Boxing Federation lightweight title against Cleveland’s Mickey Bey at Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena in Hollywood.
The title bout is the first of the year in South Florida. Moreover, the only other local championship fight after Barthelemy’s win over Argenis Mendez for the IBF junior-lightweight crown in July 2014 was Erislandy Lara’s successful defense of his 154-pound title against Jan Zavek last November at Hialeah Park and Casino.
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“Although I no longer live in Miami, coming back home to fight is always special,” said Barthelemy, who moved to Las Vegas two years ago. “I know I will have the support of my compatriots and fans.”
Barthelemy (24-0, 13 KOs) relocated to boxing-hotbed Las Vegas to enhance his fight fortunes. After the move west, Barthelemy has won belts in two separate weight classes and will target additional divisions.
“My goal is to become the first Cuban fighter to win titles in three divisions,” Barthelemy said. “Our country has had a proud boxing history and accomplishing that would be a tremendous honor.”
As a result, the next progression would be a 140-pound (super lightweight-junior-welterweight) title as Barthelemy doesn’t anticipate a lengthy lightweight reign if he defeats Bey. “Right now, there are not that many attractive options in the lightweight division,” Barthelemy said. “When you look at 140 or 147 (welterweight), that’s where a lot of good opportunities open up.”
However, before he covets titles in higher classes, Barthelemy acknowledges the immediate task of overcoming Bey’s challenge. A former IBF lightweight champion, Bey (22-1-1, 10 KOs) was stripped of the belt because of inactivity last year and Barthelemy won the vacant title fight against Denis Shafikov.
“I respect every opponent I face,” Barthelemy said. “They all have the desire not only to fight but win. One punch can change a fight and that is why you have to be prepared for every challenge.
Friday’s title fight headlines an announced 10-bout card. Featured in the undercard will be Boca Raton light-heavyweight Steve Geffrard, a three-time national amateur champion. The first fight is scheduled to start at 6:30. Ticket prices range from $35 to $160.
For information, call 1-800-745-3000.
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