Saturday night at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut, Rances Barthelemy (20-0, 12 KO’s) defends the IBF World super featherweight title against Fernando Saucedo (52-5-3, 8 KO’s) in the 12-round main event of a triple-header to be broadcast by Showtime.
This will be Barthelemy’s first defense since his title winning performance over Argenis Mendez in July. The Cuban expat’s first title bout, also against Mendez, ended in controversy when Mendez was stopped in the second frame but had the decision changed to a no contest after it was determined that the finishing blows were landed after the bell sounded. Barthelemy won the rematch by a comfortable four point margin six months later.
Saucedo is former WBC Silver and Latino super featherweight title holder, among a few other regional titles, and comes in on a 14 fight winning streak. Barthelemy is his first top level opponent in a number of years; he fought Chris John in 2010 and Acelino Freitas in 2004, both resulting in wide decision losses.
A regular on ESPN Friday Night Fights, Barthelemy’s seen his share of questionable events, not just in the first Mendez contest, but also against then undefeated Arash Usmanee, who he defeated by what some felt was a gift decision. Saucedo however, may be the perfect opponent for the champ to showcase his skills to a wider audience.
The Cuban expat is unusually tall for this division, and he knows exactly how to use his height and reach to his advantage. His slick style is typical of most Cuban amateurs, but he also has the power to finish off an opponent when he’s got him hurt. Saucedo on the other hand, despite having three times the professional experience, bring little to fear in the way of punching power, having scored just eight stoppage wins in 52 victories. His competition level has also been far below that of Barthelemy and as already stated, he hasn’t fared well when he steps up to face world class fighters. His best chance at having any chance is to work his way inside and attack the body, but using that game plan without the power to back it up, he’d be setting himself up to get clobbered.
The Showtime broadcast is nice step up for the champion, and the fight all in all, should turn out to be the “Rances Barthelemy show”. He’ll see little trouble in controlling the fight for as long as it lasts, with the probable result being a middle round stoppage.