Unbeaten two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy and former title challenger Kiryl Relikh will both look to kick off their new year with a world title victory when they meet in a rematch for a vacant WBA junior welterweight title on Saturday, February 10 from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
The Showtime televised card begins at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT and will be headlined by three-division world champion Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) taking on unbeaten 140-pound world champion Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs).
"Obviously the number one goal for 2018 is to bring home that belt on February 10," said Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs). "Then I want to unify with all the other champions. My New Year’s resolution is to surround myself with good people and win multiple world titles."
"First I have to win this fight in February," said Relikh (21-2, 19 KOs). "But then I have hopes of a great year defending my belt against the mandatory and eventually a unification fight. This will be the year I reach a new level in this sport."
Barthelemy and Relikh will fight for the WBA’s vacant Super Lightweight World Title after their title eliminator bout in May ended in a debatable decision for Barthelemy. This time the fighters will look to leave no doubt with the full title on the line.
"This is my second time fighting for a world title and it will be a second lesson for me," said Relikh. "This is my time to become champion. I need to do much more during this fight.
"I have to be aggressive right from the start. I’m sure that I need a knockout to get the victory. He can try to run, but he won’t be able to hide from me."
"Winning this title would be a dream come true for me," said Barthelemy. "I’d be the first Cuban fighter in history to win a title in three different divisions. The last fight was very close and deserving of a rematch.
"I just need to stick to my game plan and show everyone that I’m the best 140-pound fighter in the world. The key will be to stay disciplined and land hard shots all night."
Both fighters have sacrificed in training camp on the road to what they hope will be a celebratory moment on February 10, training hard through the holiday season to stay on target for fight night.
"My whole team has done a fantastic job so far in camp," said Barthelemy. "Ismael Salas and Joel Casamayor are giving me great tips and keeping me focused on my goal. One new thing I’ve added this camp is Bob Santos for nutrition and strength and conditioning. It’s made a big difference over the holidays where I usually eat too much. He’s kept me on a strict diet and training has never been better."
"These last few weeks through the holidays have been the hardest of my camp, so there was no room for distractions," said Relikh. "I spent New Year’s with my family and then I was right back into training camp in the morning."
With two belts in the 140-pound division on the line in the same night, the winner between Barthelemy and Relikh will be in a great position to begin a path toward unification after February 10.
"I will have my eye on the main event for sure," said Relikh. "I’m focused on Barthelemy now, but I want to unify and if that means fighting Garcia or Lipinets, I will be ready."
"Garcia vs. Lipinets is going to be a great fight and I definitely want the winner," said Barthelemy. "Although Lipinets is the underdog going into this fight, I think he’s going to give Garcia all he can handle. But I still think Garcia will come out on top, setting up war between us in a unification bout."