EXCLUSIVE: Rances Barthelemy eyes Cuban history ahead of ring return

Rances Barthelemy

Sean Michael Ham

Former world champion Rances Barthelemy is back in action as “Kid Blast” gets ready to launch another title bid this weekend.

The 32-year-old suffered the first defeat back in March, losing out in a rematch with Kiryl Relikh.

Barthelemy had previously overcome Relikh the first time they met in May 2017. But when it really mattered, it was Relikh who took the strap.

This meant Barthelemy missed out on a place in the World Boxing Super Series, with Relikh advancing to the Semi-Finals in 2019.

Barthelemy features on the Charlo Brothers’ undercard at the Barclays Center on Saturday night on the comeback trail.

“I am extremely excited given that I had already lost hope that I would return to the ring before the end of the year,” Barthelemy explained exclusively to World Boxing News. “I’m happy and anxious to get back in the ring. I want to make my way back toward a title shot.

“My opponent is Robert Frankel. I don’t know much about him but am looking forward to getting in the ring against him.”

Asked how he reflects on the Relikh reverse, the US-based Cuban added: “I’ve been able to look back and analyze everything. As a result, there have been tremendous changes to my team. this includes parting ways with my head trainer.

“No disrespect to Relikh, but there are a lot of factors that were up against me that night that contributed to that result.

“I still see myself as a better fighter than him, but sometimes things outside of the ring and beyond our control contribute to a bad night. That’s what happened this past March.

“Now, I plan to go back down to 135 and win a lightweight title again. I want to be a two-time world champion before returning to 140 later in the year.

“I will be attempting to become the first three-division World Champion from Cuba.”

Claiming the super-featherweight crown in 2014, Barthelemy would then reign at 135 between 2015 and 2016.

The move may have been a little premature as Barthelemy could still make it lightweight easily enough.

With a renewed vigor for the sport, Barthelemy is setting his sights on challenging the best around. Among those are unified lightweight champion and pound for pound number one, Vasyl Lomachenko, or even heading north once again.

“I would love to face the very best fighters at 135 and 140. Whether it’s Lomachenko or Mikey Garcia, I would get my shot at world titles against the very best.

“I respect Lomachenko’s rise. Especially after having the early professional defeat when people thought he would have difficulties adapting to the professional rankings.

“I would love to have my shot at facing him one day,” he said.

WBSS

Concluding with his thoughts on the WBSS, which will conclude next year, Barthelemy stated: “I have not been following too closely. But I think that tournament is great for boxing as the best are fighting the best.

“I received a lot of phone calls after Relikh’s last fight from people telling me he looked completely different from the fighter that I fought in March.

“If I had to pick a winner, I think it’s between Relikh and Regis Prograis,” predicted Barthelemy.

Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay.