Five keys for Argenis Mendez
Plotting a path to victory in Friday's title bout against Rances Barthelemy
Junior lightweight titlist Argenis Mendez will headline 2014's season opener of ESPN "Friday Night Fights" when he defends his belt against Rances Barthelemy.
Mendez (21-2-1, 11 KOs), from the Dominican Republic, won the title last March against Juan Carlos Salgado by fourth-round knockout and defended the belt in a majority draw against Arash Usmanee eight months later.
Cuba's Barthelemy (19-0 , 12 KOs), who fights out of Miami, is looking for his first world title when he steps in the ring at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Here are five keys for Mendez against Barthelemy:
|To win the fight, a good way to start for Mendez will be to smother Barthelemy with pressure early on. Usmanee damaged Barthelemy with the same strategy in their fight last year, despite Barthelemy going on to claim a disputed unanimous decision. Mendez should look to overwhelm the often passive Barthelemy with punches to the head in the first few rounds. He should then save some energy to apply the same pressure at the end of the bout when Barthelemy begins to slow down and run out of air.|
Throw the hook
|As we saw in his knockout victory of Salgado, Mendez's speed, power and capacity for immediate response are his best weapon. If he can connect his deadly left hook against Barthelemy, the fight could be over sooner than people anticipate.|
Jab well done
|Barthelemy has a two-inch advantage in both height and reach. Mendez, however, should still be able to use his jab as usual, although he'll have to keep moving his legs in order to downplay his opponent's range.|
Impress the judges
|Barthelemy has been prone to long periods of inactivity and the judges take notice. Against opponents who put on pressure and move well on their feet, Barthelemy tends to wear out quickly and become unresponsive. That's when Mendez should increase his volume of punches and move in order to hit from different angles to score points.|
Don't play, just box
|Mendez tends to stay still on the ropes. He employs good defense and does well absorbing any damage to the body. It is part of his style, where he seeks to dodge blows with body and shoulder movement like Floyd Mayweather Jr. But Barthelemy's hook is just too powerful to take that risk.|
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