Rances Barthelemy very well might have been on his way to a resouding win over top junior lightweight Argenis Mendez on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights. Instead he got a tarnished one with a knockout victory of Mendez that he earned after the bell rang to end the 2nd round.
These two and controversy go hand-in-hand on FNF; Barthelemy got a disputed win over Arash Usmanee to kick off the 2013 season and Mendez suffered a disputed draw against Usmanee to conclude the season. They started off 2014 with a controversial result they shared with one another rather than Usmanee.
The 1st was all Barthelemy as a series of left hooks rattled Mendez, who never recovered. Mendez was still shaky in the 2nd and got dropped by another series of Barthelemy left hands, the first knockdown of his pro career. And then came the final bell, with the referee nowhere near the action. One of the punches in the left-right-left combo might have been legal, but the others were after the bell, and Mendez couldn't beat the 10 count.
It's difficult to blame Barthelemy here, as he was in a zone and had already started his punches, and he clearly was in control of the fight and hurting Mendez all over the place, but it's also hard to say he deserved the win how it came. Promoter Mike Tyson said he'd appeal the loss and lobby for a rematch, and while most similar efforts go nowhere, this call really needs to be reconsidered.
In the co-main event, Caleb Truax was building some steam as a regional fighter who might break from the frigid clutches of Minnesota to become a full-fledged middleweight contender, but a gust of cold wind from elite gatekeeper (if there is such a thing!) Ossie Duran blew Truax backward on FNF. Or, maybe, he just stopped him in his tracks, depending on how you view what the draw meant about Truax's momentum.
Truax started off sluggishly as Duran outjabbed him. Truax couldn't muster more than pawing punches through about the first five rounds, and Duran gave him a bloody nose in the meantime. Eventually Duran, 36 and coming off the first knockout loss of his long career of checking up-and-comers, began to fade, and Truax got more aggressive about throwing power punches, especially uppercuts on the inside. The identical scores of 95-95 across the board were fitting.
On his "Wish List" for 2014, ESPN2 analyst Teddy Atlas mentioned the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, saying: "Get rid of the corrupt sanctioning bodies that base their rankings on relationships with promoters… Bring in the [TBRB], a non-biased group of writers who want to do it the right way. They want to give you the champions and the rated fighters based on what they do in the ring, on what it should be…" Amen.