Friday, March 31, 2023  |



Q&A: 130-pound titleholder Rances Barthelemy

Fighters Network

Rances Barthelemy-ESPN-635

Rances Barthelemy will make the first defense of his IBF junior lightweight title when he meets Argentine Fernando Saucedo as the headliner of a Showtime-televised card this Saturday in Connecticut, and the Cuban-ex-patriot is looking forward to it.

I feel very happy, very excited that I’m going to be on Showtime,” Barthelemy told from his training base in Las Vegas, through his coach Michael Robles. “The network is showing some of the best fights and all the hard work and sacrifice in my life is finally paying off.”

Barthelemy (20-0, 12 knockouts) isn’t looking past Saucedo, though intends to serve notice to the 130-pound division with an impressive victory that he hopes will help set up a unification bout.

The weight class I’m in right now, there’s a big fight against (WBO titleholder) Mikey Garcia,” said the 28-year old champion. “The other two guys (Takashi Uchiyama (WBA) and Takashi Miura (WBC)), they choose not to fight outside of their country, so I’m targeting Mikey Garcia.”

We are so excited that Showtime Boxing will be televising Rances Barthelemy’s first defense,” said Leon Margules, President of Warriors Boxing. “We believe that Rances will be a star for many years to come and is showing his mettle by fighting [Sauced0] … who is on quite a roll himself.”

The DiBella Entertainment/Warriors Boxing event will be supported by an intriguing crossroads junior middleweight bout between Vanes Martirosyan and Willie Nelson in a scheduled 10-round bout, and former three-time light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson against Tommy Karpency. The broadcast will start at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on facing Saucedo?

Rances Barthelemy – I’m very pleased to be back to defend my title for the first time. I want to first of all thank Al Haymon for all his support. Since I’ve gone with him my career has lifted and will continue to get bigger. [Saucedo] is a great fighter. October fourth, I’m gonna show the world I am the IBF world champ.

AW – What do you think Saucedo brings to the fight in terms of strengths and weaknesses?

RB – He’s a great fighter, no doubt about it, but as far as weakness and strength, I noticed he’s a little flat-footed sometimes, his height and reach and his power aren’t the best but he’s very durable.

AW – You won the title last time out, when you outpointed Argenis Mendez. Tell us about that fight.

RB – The fight I had with Mendez, he came well prepared to this fight but at the same time it was a little boring for the fans because his style of fighting, he didn’t want to engage [with me]. I don’t know if he was feeling the power when we fought. His defense was a little more tight. We made adjustments in the corner and decided to just box him because he was more prepared. I attacked in the first round and when I saw I couldn’t knock him out, we changed the plan and adjusted to it to just box him.

AW – What did it mean to you to finally win the IBF title having fought Mendez back in January? (At the end of the second round of their January fight Barthelemy dropped Mendez heavily and was initially awarded the knockout victory, however after re-watching the tape the IBF decided the finishing blow landed after the bell. The fight was declared a no-contest but it was mandated the two would fight a second time.)

RB – The first time when I won the belt and knocked him out, I felt a goal had been reached, I was so excited an emotional. When I fought Mendez in the rematch, once I got the belt again I didn’t feel the same as I did the first time, I just felt it was another step in continuing my career. The second fight actually felt like a defense as opposed to winning the title.

AW – Has life changed since winning the world title?

RB – It’s changed my life 100 percent, it’s way different. I walk down the street, especially in Las Vegas [and people recognize me]. I have picked up more fans, people on Instagram. … I feel great.

AW – If I can take you back, can you tell us about growing up in Arroyo Naranjo, in Cuba?

RB – Since I was little living in Cuba it has always been my dream to come to this country and fight professional. Living there — as people know, it’s a poor country — I continued to work hard. I was in the academy in Cuba but we weren’t allowed to have the internet, so we didn’t know anything that happened out of the country. I would hear word from people who would come to Cuba that were from the United States who would say what it was like. When I finally got the opportunity to get out of this country and pursue my dream I took it, and that’s how I ended up here in America. I always followed my dream.

AW – You’re from a boxing family, your brothers and cousins?

RB – I am really proud of the Barthelemy family, most of us boxed. We have in the family baseball players, different types of athletes, but boxing is what most of us do.

AW – Tell us about your amateur career?

RB – Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to establish an amateur career like my brother (Yan, who win gold at the 2004 Olympics). One of the reasons I didn’t was because I saw how my brother won most of the tournaments he competed in and was treated so poorly. He didn’t even have a car, he had to walk everywhere. I boxed amateur just to stay active and learn, but my dream was to come over here and be professional because the people who would visit from the United States would tell him they don’t treat athletes like that, they get benefits, so I made my amateur experience short. Once my brother left the country, I was banned from boxing. That’s when I knew I had to get out of the country because any gym I went to they would put me in prison or the coach in prison for working with any of the Barthelemys.

AW – What titles and tournaments were you able to win?

RB – I won the International cup, I won two nationals, I was state champion for many years and a lot of tournaments in Cuba. My amateur record was 193-39.

AW – How did you get to America?

RB – We got picked up on a speedboat and taken to Florida.

AW – As a champion now, what goals do you still have in boxing?

RB – Now I’m the champion, I have more goals, just like Floyd (Mayweather), Tommy Hearns, like all those guys who moved up in weights and conquered other belts. I would like to clear out 130, then move up to 135, and hopefully get all three belts and to continue as I get older going up [to other] weight classes.

AW – Tell us about your life away from boxing?

RB – Outside the ring I’m a family guy, I like to be home with my wife and daughter, have my friends over, cook outs, mostly in the house really.

AW – In closing do you have a message for Saucedo?

RB – No, not really, I just wish him good luck. I’m coming in shape, well prepared like the champion I am. I hope he comes to fight and both of us can give the fans what they want, a great fight.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at