The Cuban school of boxing has recently seen an uptick in fight news headlines, both for good and bad reasons. Slick movers, calculated attackers and defensive specialists are the common M.O.s of the Cuban fighter.
While Cuba has produced many great standouts of the sweet science as of late, like Erislandy Lara, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Luis Ortiz, one fighter will look to etch himself in the boxing history books as the first Cuban fighter to win titles in three different weight classes. That fighter is, Rances “Kid Blast” Barthelemy.
Barthelemy made a splash as an outstanding amateur fighter before turning pro. The road to professional boxing was all but easy for Kid Blast. Barthelemy defected from Cuba, only to be caught and imprisoned and then defecting again before finding his way to Miami. Barthelemy credits his uphill battle to the States with making him a resilient fighter both in and out of the ring.
Boasting a record of 26-0 with half of his fights coming by way of knockout, the former Featherweight and Lightweight champion will look to earn a title in his third weight class. Standing in his way, again, is Kiryl Relikh (24-2, 19 KOs). The pair shared the ring back in May of 2017, where Barthelemy was awarded the unanimous decision despite many viewers seeing the fight extremely competitive and close.
“I believe I won the fight,” said Barthelemy in a recent interview with Round By Round Boxing. “I thought it was close and I didn’t think it was as wide of a margin as some of the judges had it but I certainly believe I won the fight.”
Barthelemy says that many things have changed since their previous bout. Looking forward to the rematch, Barthelemy believes this time around, things will manifest a bit different. “Every fight is different. I’ve had rematches in the past and it’s never the same kind of fight,” said Barthelemy. “Relikh saw me at my worst. I’ve adjusted my diet, my training regiments and now I feel at my best.”
Barthelemy is also keeping an eye on the headliner on March 10, Mikey Garcia. Barthelemy says he’s had run-ins with Garcia on different occasions and sees the fight as a possibility should both fighters come out with their hands raised. Make no mistake, after taking some hard shots from the Belarusian fighter in their first bout, Barthelemy is not overestimating him.
“I felt his power, I took some of his best shots and I won’t lie, he’s a tank,” said Barthelemy. “I want to make history. Words can’t describe what a win on March 10 will mean to me and for the people of Cuba.”
A lot is on the line for both fighters come fight night, and neither fighter will look to leave any doubt. It will either be the sweet taste of revenge for Relikh or a new page in the boxing history books for Kid Blast.
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