Rances Barthelemy will look to gain a world title in a third weight class soon, as the former IBF 130- and 135-pound champion is moving up to 140, where he’ll face Kiryl Relikh in a WBA eliminator on May 20, live on Showtime.
Barthelemy-Relikh will be part of the Gary Russell Jr vs Oscar Escandon card from Oxon Hill, Maryland, along with the super middleweight matchup between Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui.
Barthelemy (25-0, 13 KO) won the IBF super featherweight title from Argenis Mendez back in 2014, and made a successful defense three months later against David Saucedo, before moving up in weight. He dabbled at 140 already, beating Antonio DeMarco in June 2015, then moved back down to 135 and defeated Denis Shafikov to win the vacant IBF lightweight title that December.
He made one defense of that belt, as well, beating Mickey Bey in June 2016, the last time we saw the Cuban in action.
Relikh (21-1, 19 KO) is coming off of a loss, but a competitive one against Ricky Burns, where Burns retained the WBA “world” title last October. The winner of this fight would be mandatory challenger for Julius Indongo, who knocked off Burns this past weekend in Glasgow.
“I’m very excited to be back in the ring, especially on Showtime against a top-ranked contender in Kiryl Relikh,” said Barthelemy. “This victory will get me one step closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming the first Cuban to win world titles in three different weight classes. I’m very motivated and I will not be denied on May 20.”
“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity in a world title eliminator,” said Relikh. “Rances Barthelemy is a good fighter, but my experience at this weight will help me get the victory. I’m ready to do whatever it takes to get this win and eventually wear that world title belt around my waist.”