By Jason Pribila: The lights of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights light up the ring in the Convention Center in Minneapolis, MN. The main event would feature a junior lightweight fight between Rances Barthelemy (19-0, 12KO) vs Fahsai Sakkreerin (39-4-1, 21KO).
We last saw Barthelemy in January when he was awarded a gift decision against tough luck loser Arash Usmanee. Barthelemy vowed to redeem himself after that lackluster performance.
“I polished up all the mistakes I was making,” Barthelemy confessed following the fight. “That is why you were able to see me look so dominate tonight.”
Dominant is the perfect word to describe the performance of the former member of the highly touted Cuban National Team. Barthelemy entered the ring with an 8-inch height advantage against his opponent from Thailand.
In the opening round Sakkreerin tried to figure out how to get close to his opponent. He landed a few looping left hands, but for the most part he paid for his aggressiveness. Barthelemy was able to use his long jab to score first. He was also quick enough to land a short left hook when Sakkerrin attempted to land his own left.
The fight came to a sudden halt when Barthelemy landed a solid right to the body. Sakkeerin took a step back, and when he realized his legs were not there to support him, he fell to the canvas and was counted out at the 1:26 mark of the second round.
“He is a great student”, admitted trainer John David Jackson. “In the past he would head hunt. I figured with a smaller opponent, if he went to the body he would break him down a lot faster.”
With the victory Barthelemy earned the top spot in the IBF’s junior lightweight division. With his amateur experience, physical tools, and a great trainer in his corner Barthelemy could rise to the top of a division that lacks star power.
The victory capped off a good day for Jackson, who found out earlier today that his premier pupil, Sergey Kovalev, would be challenging Nathan Cleverly of Wales, for Cleverly’s light heavyweight title. That fight will air on HBO on August 17.
The televised opener featured an interesting bout contested at the middleweight division. Coming off a disappointing draw in his hometown of Chicago, Don George (24-4-2, 21 KO) went on the road to Minnesota to take on hometown draw Caleb Truax (22-1-1, 13 KO). The former super middleweight contender hoped that a televised victory would get his career back on track. Truax, whose only career loss was at the hands of faded former champion Jermain Taylor had other ideas.
After being stopped by current light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, George came down to the middleweight division. He had hoped that his plus power would be enough of an advantage to carry him up the rankings. Unfortunately, included with the weight loss was a complete loss of George’s defense.
Truax took control in the opening round in the opening round behind his jab and straight right hand. Two minutes into the fight Truax hurt George who stumbled into the ropes. Truax unloaded on the stationary target he had standing in front of him.
George seemed buzzed as he sat in his corner between rounds. In the past George possessed the one punch power that could turn any fight around, but at this weight he did not seem to have any snap on his punches.
Truex landed over 60% of his power punches again in round three. George again seemed lucky to make it out of the round on his feet.
George tried to get his jab going in round four, but it was neutralized by Truax’s offense. A basic jab and right hand landed at will.
As round six began, we were already at a point where George needed a knockout to win. A knockout came, but it was delivered by the man that dominated the action. A stationary George was trapped against the ropes when a hard right hand landed behind his ear. George went down on the canvas face first, and he stayed there long after the fight was waved off at 2:24 of the round.
This was a career best win for Truax, and the fact that it happened on national television should land him in a meaningful fight. He suffered a broken thumb in his last fight that required surgery. On this night the right hand seemed fine, and coming out of the fight unscathed should guarantee that we will see the 29 year old back in the ring soon.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be followed on Twitter.com @PribsBoxing.
June 21, 2013