The WBA Super Lightweight title was on the line in San Antonio, Texas as Rances “Kid Flash” Barthelemy (26-1, 13 KOs) took on Kiryl Relikh (22-2, 19 KOs) for the second time.
Their initial meeting saw Barthelemy go home with a controversial unanimous-decision victory despite the fight being close in most viewers eyes. Coming into the Saturday’s scrap, both fighters looked to settle the debate once and for all.
Judging by how crowd-pleasing part one of this showdown was, most expected much of the same in the rematch. The opening rounds proved difficult for the Cuban. Relikh controlled the pace and backed Barthelemy at will. Barthelemy found himself on his backfoot trying to avoid a big shot from the Belarus fighter.
At first, it was unclear what the Barthelemy strategy was. Relikh swarmed Barthelemy at every turn through six rounds with no change in game plan from the Cuban’s corner.
In the seventh, Barthelemy began to find a home for some power shots but if matters couldn’t get worse for “Kid Flash,” a point deduction for a low blow killed any chance of securing the round.
Barthelemy found success in the ninth and 10th round with a few solid hooks, one of which seemed to hurt Relikh but Barthelemy was unable to capitalize on it. At this point, it would certainly be an uphill battle to secure the victory. In the end, Relikh proved too much for Barthelemy and he scored the unanimous decision with scores of 118-109 (twice) and 117-110.
“I was definitely in good shape but I felt tied up today and I felt tight,” said Barthelemy. “[Relikh] did have a better output of punches and that definitely helped him win the fight.”
As for the Belarus champ, a lifelong goal was finally complete.
“I’m very happy. I’ve waited for this dream for 20 years,” said Relikh. “I’ve worked hard for this dream and now it’s mine. Relikh, now the WBA Super Lightweight champion will look to defend his title in what is still a very competitive and fan friendly division.
Photos by Amanda Westcott/Showtime
Peter Nieves is a sports journalist who's been writing for Round By Round Boxing since 2012. When he's not covering the sweet science, he's busy twirling his mustache and writing a screenplays. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @pnieves90