Dan Rafael: Rances Barthelemy

Khan joins Haymon's stable

April, 15, 2014
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The stable of powerful adviser Al Haymon continued to grow Wednesday as he added yet another prominent fighter -- former unified junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan of England.

The signing comes as little surprise, as Khan has talked about signing with Haymon in recent weeks.

“I am very happy to have signed with Al Haymon, who has not only shown that he is a very astute businessman, but is extremely knowledgeable of the fight game and always has his fighters’ best interests at heart,” Khan said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to building a long and successful relationship during this exciting stage of my career.”

Khan’s next fight is already set. He will face former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo -- another Haymon client -- in a welterweight bout on May 3 in the co-feature of the Showtime PPV card headlined by the welterweight unification fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana, both of whom also are Haymon clients.

The Khan-Collazo winner figures to be in great position to land a shot at Mayweather in the fall, assuming he defeats Maidana.

Haymon also recently signed light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, welterweight contender Robert Guerrero, junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson and his brother, lightweight Anthony Peterson.

Haymon also handles, among others, top fighters Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Deontay Wilder, Chris Arreola, Peter Quillin, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Paulie Malignaggi, Sakio Bika, Chad Dawson and Rances Barthelemy.

Peterson brothers join Haymon

March, 18, 2014
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Lamont Peterson, Dierry JeanTom Casino/ShowtimeJunior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson was among three new fighters to align with Al Haymon.
The roster of Al Haymon fighters just keeps growing and growing.

Boxing's most influential adviser added three more fighters to his stable in the past week, signing the Peterson brothers -- junior welterweight titlist Lamont and lightweight Anthony -- along with junior lightweight contender Rances Barthelemy, according to Sam Watson, Haymon's right-hand man.

“We signed them and we're happy to have them," Watson said.

The signings come on the heels of other recent signings that include light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, former welterweight titleholder Luis Collazo and former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson.

Lamont Peterson (32-2-1, 16 KOs) defended his title on Jan. 25 and has nothing scheduled, but younger brother Anthony (32-1, 21 KOs), who has fought just twice since a disqualification loss in a title eliminator to Brandon Rios in 2010, returns in this week's "Friday Night Fights" co-feature on ESPN2 when he faces Marcos Jimenez (20-4, 13 KOs) in a 10-round bout at the Morongo Castino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif.

Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KOs) thought he won a 130-pound world title by second-round knockout of Argenis Mendez on Jan. 3 but the result was later changed by the Minnesota commission to a no decision because the knockout blows were thrown after the bell ended the round. Mendez appealed the result and won, so the outcome was changed and he retained the title. They are due to meet in a mandatory rematch, probably in the early summer.

Haymon represents numerous top fighters, most notably pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. But there are so many more, including Marcos Maidana, Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Beibut Shumenov, Devon Alexander, Deontay Wilder, Peter Quillin, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Erislandy Lara, Paulie Malignaggi, Andre Berto, Chris Arreola, Sakio Bika, Gary Russell Jr. and twins Jermell and Jermall Charlo.

Haymon also signed several members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team, including Dominic Breazeale, Marcus Browne, Terrell Gausha, Errol Spence Jr. and flyweight Rau'shee Warren.

Title fight on FNF season opener

January, 2, 2014
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Argenis Mendez (AP Photo/Paul BeatyArgenis Mendez hopes to end his fight with Rances Barthelemy within 12 rounds.

When Argenis Mendez won a junior lightweight world title in March, he did it by scoring a fourth-round knockout in a rematch with Juan Carlos Salgado. When Mendez made his first defense on Aug. 23, the fight went the distance and he retained the belt via unpopular majority draw against Arash Usmanee.

Headed into his second defense, Mendez said he is determined not to leave the result in the hands of the judges this time when he faces mandatory challenger Rances Barthelemy in the main event of this week’s season debut of “Friday Night Fights” (ESPN2, 9 ET) at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

“I definitely learned that when you're in the ring you have to give it your all. Sometimes what you and your corner think isn't what is going through the judges' minds,” Mendez said, referring to the Usmanee bout. “Honestly, I don't know what fight the judges saw. There was no way that bout was a draw.

“Unfortunately, that fight wasn't the first time this has happened to me. I've been robbed twice before, once in Denver [in an eight-round decision loss to Jaime Sandoval in 2008], and the other time in Mexico [in the first fight with Salgado in 2011]. I knocked both guys down during our fights. Now, I'm more determined to get in there and be more aggressive to make sure there is no doubt that I am the winner. I'm definitely not going to leave it to the judges. I know for sure that I'm going home with my title.”

Mendez (21-2-1, 11 KOs), 27, a native of the Dominican Republic fighting out of Brooklyn, N.Y., will be fighting with trainer John David Jackson in his corner for the first time. Jackson is very familiar with Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KOs), 27, a native of Cuba living in Miami. Jackson used to train Barthelemy, who scored the title shot by winning two elimination bouts with Jackson in his corner.

The first one was a highly controversial decision against Usmanee last January, followed by a second-round knockout of Fahsai Sakkreerin in June, also in Minneapolis.

“[Jackson has] definitely been teaching me how to be more aggressive, throwing more punches and improving my power,” Mendez said. “He's great strategizing and together we have worked out a great plan for this upcoming fight. We already have the blueprint. My job is to go out there [on Friday] and execute.”

In the scheduled 10-round co-feature of the card, co-promoted by former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson’s Iron Mike Productions (with Tyson expected ringside), Minnesota middleweight Caleb Truax (23-1-1, 14 KOs), whose only loss came to former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, faces late substitute Ossie Duran (28-11-2, 11 KOs), 36, a native of Ghana living in Paterson, N.J. Truax, 30, has won five fights in a row since the points loss to Taylor in April 2012, including a sixth-round knockout of Donovan George.

“It means a lot to be fighting at home in front of family and friends,” Truax said. “My fight is going to be a battle against an opponent who wants nothing more than to make a name for himself. I will be ready for anything he has to offer.”

Golovkin-Macklin close, plus more

April, 10, 2013
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Here's the lowdown on a bunch of fights that are either set, in the works or falling apart:

• Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) of Kazakhstan and former title challenger Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) of Great Britain have a deal in principle to fight June 29 in the main event of an HBO tripleheader, according to both camps. The fight likely will be finalized in the coming days and could be announced as soon as Saturday at a news conference in New York, where many boxing writers will be covering the Nonito Donaire-Guillermo Rigondeaux junior featherweight unification bout. No site is set yet, but the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn., is the front-runner to host.

The co-feature will pit South African super middleweight Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KOs) against Sacramento's Brandon Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs). The fight has been agreed to but isn't yet signed. The opener will feature Cleveland junior middleweight Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs), although promoter Lou DiBella and HBO have been arguing over an opponent for days.

• Fresh off his junior lightweight title defense against Diego Magdaleno in Macau, China, last Saturday, Roman "Rocky" Martinez (27-1-2, 16 KOs) is looking toward his next defense. It could come against former featherweight titlist Orlando Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs) in September in Martinez's native Puerto Rico, according to Salido's manager, Sean Gibbons. Salido, who lost his featherweight belt to Mikey Garcia in January, will fight June 1 in Mexico or June 15 in Puerto Rico before the possible bout with Martinez.

• Light heavyweights Tony Bellew (19-1-1, 12 KOs) of England and Isaac Chilemba (20-1-2, 9 KOs) of South Africa will meet in a rematch May 25 in London on the undercard of the Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch super middleweight title rematch, according to Chilemba's promoter, Lou DiBella, who said he made a deal with Bellew promoter Eddie Hearn. Once again, Bellew and Chilemba will fight for the right to become champion Chad Dawson's mandatory challenger. Bellew and Chilemba met on March 30 in Bellew's hometown of Liverpool, England, and fought to a draw.

• The third fight between cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck (35-2-1, 25 KOs) and interim titlist Ola Afolabi (19-2-4, 9 KOs) is scheduled for May 11 in Germany, and both fighter camps say their man is training. However, promoter Don King, who doesn't handle either fighter yet won the purse bid for a whopping $1.5 million, still doesn't have a specific site or a television deal, leading both sides to believe the fight won't come off as scheduled. According to the Afolabi camp, the WBO, which is sanctioning the bout, has given King a Wednesday deadline to produce signed contracts for the fight or he will forfeit his right to promote the bout.

• Lightweight Ameth Diaz (31-11, 22 KOs) of Panama will travel to Martin Gethin's hometown of Walsall, England, for a lightweight title eliminator on May 24. Diaz was supposed to face Marvin Quintero in the eliminator on April 5 in Santa Ynez, Calif., but Quintero suffered a broken nose, needed surgery and withdrew from the fight. Since Quintero was unavailable, Gethin (24-3-1, 11 KOs) was the next available contender in the IBF's rankings for the eliminator. The Diaz-Gethin winner will become the mandatory challenger for Miguel Vazquez.

• Featherweight titlist Evgeny Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs) of Russia will make his first defense against mandatory challenger Mauricio Munoz (26-3, 12 KOs) of Argentina. An April 16 purse bid was canceled after the sides made a deal. Top Rank, Gradovich's promoter, plans to put the fight on in June or July, probably on the undercard of featherweight titlist Mikey Garcia's first defense.

• The promoters for junior lightweights Rances Barthelemy (18-0, 11 KOs), a Miami-based Cuba native, and Thailand's Fahsi Sakkreerin (39-3-1, 21 KOs) reached an agreement for their title elimination bout. Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules told ESPN.com that the sides have agreed on the terms and that the fight will be promoted in the United States this summer. The Barthelemy-Sakkreerin winner will become the mandatory challenger for 130-pound titlist Argenis Mendez.

Gonzalez looks to rebound on FNF

December, 28, 2012
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On Sept. 1, junior middleweight prospect Johnathan Gonzalez got a huge opportunity to step up in competition and face former titleholder Sergiy Dzinziruk on HBO.

Instead of taking advantage, Gonzalez blew it big time and left his career in tatters. Not only did he show up way out of shape (he was 169 pounds a few days before the fight and ultimately weighed in at 163 pounds for a 154-pound fight), he fought terribly. In a tremendously uninspired performance, Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KOs) was lucky to get a 12-round split draw in a horrible fight.

The stench of his September performance and his blowing weight by such an absurd amount won’t be forgotten, but the 23-year-old former amateur standout from Puerto Rico is getting another chance to show that he should still be considered a prospect.

He’ll face Derek “Pooh” Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs) on Jan. 4 at the Magic City Casino in Miami, Fla., in the co-featured bout of the season-opening card of “Friday Night Fights” (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET). In the main event, junior lightweight Rances Barthelemy (17-0, 11 KOs) will meet Arash Usmanee (20-0, 10 KOs).

Gabby Penagaricano, Gonzalez’s adviser, was as disappointed in his performance in September as anyone, but said he believes Gonzalez has learned from the situation and taken this training camp seriously.

“Jonathan has been in camp in Florida for close to two full months without any interruptions,” Penagaricano said. “These have been the best preparations of his career. He'll be 100 percent on fight night, on weight and ready to go.

"He's absolutely maturing as a result of the September fight and everything that happened. I think that camp, he needed to be in Puerto Rico for personal reasons and he wasn't able to be with his trainer, and there were interruptions and distractions. Even apart from the weight, he was not 100 percent like he will be this time. This time has been fantastic. He definitely made the right decisions for this one.”

Gonzalez is training in Miami under the supervision of trainers John David Jackson and Chico Ramos.

“He has taken this camp very seriously,” Penagaricano said. “We're all seeing him maturing as a fighter and as a person. I think he realized the need to leave Puerto Rico for camp every fight, like other important fighters [from this country] have done. He notices the difference in his level of conditioning.”

Penagaricano was talking about one of his clients, Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto, who also trains in Florida.

"I'm very happy with the preparation. I'm in the best shape of my career, and at the end of the fight, the result will be a knockout,” Gonzalez said.

Penagaricano said he's also pleased that Gonzalez is facing a solid opponent in Ennis instead of having him return against a no-hoper.

“It would have been very easy to find some opponent for him to beat in one or two rounds, but in his career, he's never been like that,” Penagaricano said. “He's a prospect that has faced quality opposition since the beginning. His record has a lot of opponents with winning records, which is not typical anymore.

“The majority of opponents have been decent opposition and he has been able to knock all but (three) out. And now, even though we could have picked someone very easy for him, this opponent came across who is very decent and capable fighter and he said right away that's the fight he wants. That's just how he is. He will always choose the harder opponent. With his ability and this new mentality, I have no doubt he will become one of the great Puerto Rican fighters.”

FNF season begins Jan. 4

October, 31, 2012
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It can't get here soon enough, but the new season of "Friday Night Fights" on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (and simulcast every week in Spanish on ESPN Deportes) will kick off on Jan. 4.

ESPN boxing programmer Doug Loughrey is in the process of putting together the early part of the schedule, but the season premiere will take place in Miami and be headlined by a scheduled 10-round junior lightweight bout between prospect Rances Barthelemy (17-0, 11 KOs), a Miami-based Cuban defector, against Arash Usmanee (20-0, 10 KOs), a native of Afghanistan based in Montreal.

The scheduled 10-round co-feature is slated to be junior middleweight Jonathan Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KOs) of Puerto Rico against Derrick Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs) of Philadelphia. Gonzalez is coming off a terrible performance in a terrible fight against former titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk in September, a fight for which Gonzalez showed up at 163 pounds -- nine pounds over the 154-pound contract limit.

The Jan. 11 show is still being put together, and there is no card on Jan. 18. The site for the Jan. 25 show will take place at a site that hasn't been finalized. It will be headlined by the always-exciting Russian junior welterweight contender Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs), an FNF regular for the past few years. His opponent hasn't been finalized, but one possibility is the Philippines' Jason Pagara (30-2, 19 KOs).

Solid prospects in upcoming shows

April, 13, 2012
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Middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero (23-1, 18 KOs) of Salisbury, Md., will meet Las Vegas' Chris Fitzpatrick (15-1, 6 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder that has been added to the "ShoBox: The New Generation" telecast on April 20 (Showtime, 11 p.m. ET/PT) at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Miss. The tripleheader is headlined by former middleweight champ Jermain Taylor (29-4-1, 18 KOs) versus Caleb Truax (18-0-1, 10 KOs), with junior middleweight contender Erislandy Lara (15-1-1, 10 KOs) facing Ronald Hearns (26-2, 20 KOs) in the co-feature.

And on May 11, three more rising prospects will be featured on a "ShoBox: The New Generation" tripleheader at Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel in Las Vegas. Headlining the card will be Cuban defector Yudel Jhonson (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2004 Olympic silver medalist and southpaw, against Freddy Hernandez (30-2, 20 KOs) of Mexico in a scheduled 10-round junior middleweight bout. Also in televised bouts, Sweden's Badou Jack (10-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Olympian, will face Alexander Brand (17-0, 15 KOs) of Colombia in an eight-round super middleweight bout, with junior lightweight Rances Barthelemy (15-0, 11 KOs), also from Cuba, opening the show against Mexico's Aalan Martinez (12-1-1, 8 KOs) in a scheduled eight-rounder.

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