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Rances Barthelemy still can’t believe he wasn’t allowed to continue in the sixth round of his fight against Gary Antuanne Russell nine months ago.
Barthelemy believes he would’ve eventually knocked out Russell had their fight not been stopped after he was knocked down during the sixth round. The Cuban contender got up quickly from Russell’s right hook, answered the commands of referee Shada Murdaugh and appeared prepared to keep fighting in their 10-round bout July 30 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Murdaugh determined that Barthelemy shouldn’t continue, though, and declared Russell the winner by technical knockout 50 seconds into the sixth round. That controversial conclusion left Barthelemy (29-2-1, 15 KOs, 1 NC), who will face Omar Juarez on Saturday night in Las Vegas, with the only knockout defeat of his 13-year professional career on his record.
“I felt f——- awful,” Barthelemy told BoxingScene.com. “You know what I felt like? It felt like the whole arena was crumbling on top of me. And the fact that people were booing the ref and all the hostility that was going around the entire thing, it was just something that was a very, very sour experience.”
Barthelemy buzzed Russell (16-0, 16 KOs) with a right cross that knocked Russell into the ropes with about 45 seconds remaining in the opening round. Barthelemy later caught Russell with a left hand that made Russell take an awkward step several seconds before the fourth round ended.
Russell landed his fair share of hard punches prior to the sixth-round knockdown as well. The heavily favored Russell led on all three scorecards entering the sixth round (49-46, 49-46, 48-47).
“I felt like I was damaging him to both the head and to the body,” Barthelemy said. “In fact, I felt like the damage was more evident to the body than to the head. Once we were gonna get to the seventh, eighth, ninth round, the damage to his body as a whole, from head to toe, was really gonna be evident and to my advantage. So, the fact that it ended how it ended left a very bitter taste in my mouth.”
The 37-year-old Barthelemy was mindful of Russell’s power, especially early in their fight. Once he hurt the undefeated contender, though, Barthelemy was confident he could win by knockout.
“I thought especially in the first two rounds that Russell was really aggressive,” Barthelemy said, “and I was like, ‘OK, it’s gonna be a long fight.’ But then, from the third round on, I saw his energy dip very noticeably. So, I was like, ‘OK, forget the long fight. I can knock this guy out.’ ”
Barthelemy pushed for an immediate rematch, but he settled for a 10-round fight versus Juarez (14-1, 5 KOs), of Brownsville, Texas. Russell, a southpaw from Capitol Heights, Maryland, was scheduled to face St. Louis’ Kent Cruz (16-0-3, 10 KOs) on Saturday night, but that fight was removed from this Premier Boxing Champions card.
“The rematch was doable,” Barthelemy said. “The network [wanted it]. They told me, ‘Hey, let’s do it in December’ of last year. And then the Russell camp was like, ‘He’s hurt. Can’t do it.’ Then in February, again, ‘Can’t do it.’ So, now that I see that he had to withdraw from [this] card because of an injury, it convinced me more than ever that, OK, he’s truly injured. So, I hope he gets healthy and that at some point [the rematch] can happen.”
Showtime will broadcast Barthelemy-Juarez as its co-feature Saturday night from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (9 p.m. EDT; 6 p.m. PDT).
Rolly Romero (14-1, 12 KOs), of North Las Vegas, Nevada, will face Venezuelan veteran Ismael Barroso (24-3-2, 22 KOs) for the vacant WBA super lightweight title in the 12-round main event. A 12-round, 140-pound WBA elimination bout between Uzbekistan’s Batyr Akhmedov (9-2, 8 KOs) and Chicago’s Kenneth Sims Jr. (19-2-1, 7 KOs) will open Showtime’s three-bout broadcast.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.