Slick and classy Cuban Rances Barthelemy, 27-1(14) faces Robert Easter Jr. on April 27th, and the two once-beaten fighters will duel for the vacant WBA lightweight title along with the vacant IBO belt. 32 year old Barthelemy, who has dropped back down to 135 pounds following his surprise decision loss to Kiryl Relikh, says he is hungrier than ever and that he expects a great fight from Easter.
Here, courtesy of Denise Colome, “Kid Blast,” as Barthelemy is known, speaks exclusively with Eastside Boxing:
Q:Do you feel fully strong coming back down to 135 pounds from 140?
Rances Barthelemy: “ Absolutely. I feel refreshed and ready to reclaim my place at the top of the sport and division. We’ve made major adjustments to our camp, including sparring with the best, and I couldn’t be in better guidance than Nevada Hall of Famer Joel Casamayor and my brother, Olympic champion Yan Barthelemy.”
Q: You have beaten the best at 130, 135 and 140 – which is your best weight?
R.B: “To be honest I wouldn’t corner myself into just one division. I consider myself a multifaceted fighter who is proving to be amongst the best in the sport as I move up in weight divisions, however, as far as 140 goes, I won’t feel complete until I go after that 3rd world title again.”
Q: How good is Robert Easter in your opinion and which of his fights have impressed you?
R.B: “My respects go out to Robert Easter. I have seen and studied footage of him in order to know his strengths and weaknesses. Overall, he is a great fighter, very talented and he has proven himself to be strong competitor amongst the best of the best, so we are excited for this opportunity.”
Q: What type of a fight do you think it will be between you two on April 27 – a chess-match type fight or a punching battle?
R.B: “You’ll have to tune in and see, but what I can guarantee you is that we plan to come into that ring and do what we always do, put up a challenging fight and come out with our hands in the air at the end of the night.”
Q: Assuming you do win, do you plan to stay at 135 and defend the belts?
R.B: “Right now I’m focusing on getting my belt back and after that we’ll have to sit down as a team and discuss our next moves. If big names present themselves in the horizon we may stick around and go that route, or we may chase my dream to become the first Cuban 3 division world champion.”
Q: Do you feel as hungry as ever at age 32?
R.B: “Yes I am hungrier than ever especially after losing my undefeated record and title. I’m coming back with a vengeance.”
Q: Who are some of the other big names of the sport you want to fight in the coming months – Lomachenko maybe?
R.B: “Any of the big names are welcome and we won’t back down from. That’s what I’ve been saying for some time now that we want the big names. Whether it be Lomachenko or any of the other guys.”
Q: Easter lost his last fight, to Mikey Garcia, do you think he will be ready for you?
R.B: “Mikey Garcia is one of the best in the sport, a highly skilled competitor that Robert Easter didn’t back down from. He’s [Easter] always shown a lot of heart and that’s the kind of fighter we like to go up against. We expect the same tenacity come April 27th.”
Q: Do you see a KO in this fight?
R.B: “KO’s are always a possibility. If it comes our way we will definitely take it, but we have a strong strategy and plan that we plan to execute to get us the victory.”
Q: You are one of the fine Cuban stylists – who is your own Cuban boxing hero?
R.B: “Teófilo Stevenson.”
Q: Could we perhaps see the very best of you in coming fights, is the best still to come despite all you have done?
R.B: “Yes, I believe the best is yet to come. I have a void I need to fill before I can rest.”
Q: And you aim to have a very active 2019?
R.B: “Yes I have spoken to my management team and plan on being consistently active going forward. The inactivity is what threw my career off path, despite me training non-stop.”
Q: Is it still your goal to become the first Cuban to win world titles in three weight divisions?
R.B: “Yes, that’s my dream and ultimate goal. It’s a personal thing I need to accomplish for myself, which is keeping me focused and determined.”