Rances Barthelemy will face Denis Shafikov for the vacant IBF lightweight title on the December 5 Showtime card from the Barclays Center, which will be headlined by an anticipated middleweight showdown between Daniel Jacobs and Peter Quillin, two fighters with strong Brooklyn ties.
The Barthelemy-Shafikov bout was originally targeted for November 14, but now has a higher profile slot. It's also a really strong matchup. Shafikov (36-1-1, 19 KO) is a top contender with three straight wins since a 2014 loss to Miguel Vazquez in Macau, while Barthelemy (23-0, 13 KO) is a former super featherweight titleholder who fought his last two outings as a junior welterweight.
Most recently, Barthelemy defeated Antonio DeMarco on June 21, and Shafikov beat Roy Mukhlis on July 18 in his return to Macau.
The IBF lightweight title was most recently held by Mickey Bey, who won what was widely called a robbery over Miguel Vazquez in September 2014, on the Mayweather-Maidana II undercard. Bey bailed on a mandatory defense against Shafikov, which Top Rank had rights to for that Macau card, and never defended his belt.