Though he might not have the belt for too long, Rances Barthelemy leaves the season premiere of ESPN Friday Night Fights as the new IBF super featherweight titleholder, blitzing Argenis Mendez early and scoring a knockout left hook "at the end of" round two. In reality, the shot -- and one before it -- landed clearly after the bell to end the round, at which point referee Pete Podgorski counted anyway, and reached the full 10.
Mendez (21-3-1, 11 KO) may get his belt back on a disqualification after a formal complaint is filed with the Minnesota commission and likely with the IBF as well, or he may get it back on a no-contest. There's no doubt that Barthelemy (20-0, 13 KO) was completely in control of the fight, but the knockout shot(s) were landed after the bell, and obviously so. That's a foul. There are rules. We live in a society.
But no matter what the commission and/or sanctioning body decide, there should, it seems to me, be a mandatory and immediate rematch ordered. Barthelemy was dominating, hurting Mendez a bit in round one and then scoring a nice knockdown late in round two that set up that second, illegal knockdown and knockout. Mendez didn't look good in there and probably would have lost, but that's just not enough reason to overlook the fact that the fight did not end within the rules of boxing.
After the fight, ESPN's Bernardo Osuna confirmed that the Mendez camp will be filing a formal protest of the result.
In the night's main co-feature, local favorite Caleb Truax struggled to an unanimous draw with veteran Ossie Duran in a 10-round middleweight bout, with all three judges scoring it 95-95. BLH had it 96-94 for Truax, same as ESPN's Teddy Atlas. The draw was fair scoring. Truax (23-1-2, 14 KO) was looking to establish himself as a serious contender at 160 following a dominant win last June over Don George, but tonight he looked more like the high-level club fighter he appeared to be prior to that win. He's a good fighter, tricky and can be a spoiler, and he's easy to root for, but it's hard to find reasons to consider him a real contender right now.
Duran (28-11-3, 11 KO) did a lot of damage with his jab, which was easily his most effective punch, bloodying Truax's nose early and staying on it. If Duran had been just a bit more active, he probably would have won this fight, which started slow but did pick up as it wore on. Over the course of the fight, Truax just didn't look like the guy who smashed George, or even the guy who put a scare into the faded Jermain Taylor in 2012. He was a little off. Duran, though, is a genuinely rugged veteran fighter who knows his way around the ring. But Truax is 30 and if he's looking to get title shots, the time is now, or at least real soon.
Also featured was 18-year-old welterweight Erickson Lubin, a blue chip American prospect who turned pro on November 26. In his second fight, he knocked out Luis Santiago in 1:01 with a body attack. Lubin is raw and has a long way to go, but a lot of boxing people think quite a bit of his future.