Gary Antuanne Russell v Rances Barthelemy Suffers Questionable Stoppage
In the opening bout on the undercard of Danny Garcia v Jose Benavidez Jr, 140-pound unbeaten contender Gary Antuanne Russell (16-0, 16KOs) took on two-division world champion Rances “Kid Blast” Barthelemy (29-2-1-1, 15KOs).
Ranked number 7 in the WBC and number 11 in the IBF and WBA, Russell came into this fight with a heavy heart after losing his father, Gary Russell Sr, in May. He looked to make another statement while also picking up his second consecutive victory over a former world champion. In his prior fight, he stopped former WBC 140-pound champion Vitkor Postol in ten rounds.
As for Barthelemy, the Cuban veteran brought a two-fight win streak into the fight. After losing to Kiryl Relikh in a rematch for the vacant WBA Super 140-pound title in 2018, he would bounce back against Robert Frankel, picking up a third round TKO victory. Afterwards, he would face former IBF 135-pound champion Robert Easter Jr. in one of the least entertaining fights in recent memory, settling for a draw. In electing to face Russell, Barthelemy hoped a win would propel him into the rankings at 140. This seemingly is his last run at another world title opportunity.
NO CAKE WALK!
From the moment the bell rang, it was evident how Russell was going to approach this fight. The unbeaten knockout artist was the hunter as he used his skills to aggressively come in behind his jab. Although he was under immense pressure from the moment the fight started, that didn’t deter Barthelemy, who would show patience, a good jab and excellent counterpunching.
Interestingly enough, the best punch landed in round one was a hard counter-right by Kid Blast that sent Russell across the ring. The two-way action would continue to heat up as both men refused to let up! The height and jab of Barthelemy would consistently give Russell issues. However, to his credit, Russell would employ feints and his jab to still find offensive success.
In round five, Russell was finally able to land a right hook clean on the temple that sent Barthelemy down to the canvas. While he wasn’t visibly hurt, referee Shadasia Murdaug inexplicably called off the bout. Barthelemy’s trainer, Orlando Cuellar, went on a tear, letting Murdaug know how bad the stoppage was. The fans also booed the decision – rightfully so. In the aftermath, Cuellar called for a rematch.
It’ll be interesting to see if these two guys run it back, as it was truly an excellent fight.
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By: Jerrell Fletcher