Following the Minnesota commission's rightful decision to overturn Rances Barthelemy's January 3 win over Argenis Mendez, a knockout that came on a shot landed clearly after the bell to end the second round, the IBF has ordered a rematch between Mendez, who was returned the super featherweight title.
Barthelemy says that if Mendez actually takes the fight -- the IBF has set a March 3 deadline to make a deal before it goes to a purse bid -- he'll just repeat what he did the first time, when he was without question clearly beating the hell out of Mendez.
"This decision to take away my title is a terrible one," Barthelemy said via press release. "The referee did not call a foul that night, so how can a commissioner over-rule him by watching TV, weeks later? I am better stronger and more talented than him and I knocked him out. Now I have to do it again.
"If they put me in the ring with Mendez again, I will hurt him again. They haven't done him any favors by making him fight me again. His legs were going weak with every punch I even touched him with. And now I know exactly how to get to him, so it'll be even worse next time. I was glad he survived to fight another day, but he is making a mistake fighting me again."
Luis Decubas was also critical of the Minnesota commission: "First of all, it's ludicrous that my fighter trains hard, does nothing wrong, and becomes World Champion only to have an inexperienced Commission unilaterally take his win away without a hearing. Rances is the champion of the world everywhere but in the eyes of the revered boxing body called the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. There is a reason there are not more world title fights in that state. There's no instant replay in boxing in Minnesota. If the rules were interpreted improperly, the commission can change the outcome. However, the referee didn't do that. The referee did not rule that a foul was committed that night, so how can a commission in an office play second referee weeks later? That's not fixing a misinterpretation, that's acting as a second referee and it sets a very dangerous precedent in boxing."
And here's promoter Leon Margules' take: "I know Commissioner Ken Peterson thinks he's doing the right thing, but he does not understand the rules of boxing that requires only the referee to call a foul. The referee did not do that and the KO Rances earned in the ring should stand. Now Rances will just give Argenis Mendes another ass-whipping. Barthelemy is at a point in his career where he is improving every day and would beat any fighter in the world at his weight. Hopefully the television networks recognize what a great talent he is, and how this horrendous reversal in Minnesota impacted him financially, and as they have done in the past with other fighters, who were wronged, give Rances Barthelemy the chance to prove he is indeed the best in the world at his or any weight."
It is worth noting that if this were the other way around, Decubas and Margules would be applauding the Minnesota commission for righting a technical wrong. No one disagrees that Barthelemy was smoking Mendez. He was going all beast mode on the dude. But the knockout blow landed clearly after the bell. The referee got it wrong. This doesn't set a dangerous precedent; if anything, it hopefully moves toward setting a good one.