By Joseph Herron – Highly touted Super Featherweight prospect Rances “Kid Blast” Barthelemy (17-0, 11 KOs) takes his first step towards 130 pound contention tonight on the season premier of ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” from the Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida, when he faces undefeated Arash Usmanee (20-0, 10 KOs) of Canada.
The scheduled twelve round main event will not only serve as the Cuban exile’s first big step up in competition, but also determine the #2 IBF position in the wide open Junior Lightweight division.
Against a very tough, unbeaten opponent, “Kid Blast” will be marching into undiscovered territory as he embarks on his first outing over eight rounds. Most fight critics and boxing scribes believe the “Cuban Missile” to be ready for his challenging litmus test on network television.
What has a lot of boxing insiders buzzing is Barthelemy’s big 5’11” frame, power in both fists, and his ability to comfortably make the 130 pound weight restriction. Most fight pundits claim Rances Barthelemy has the potential to be a future star of the sport.
Co-promoter Richard Dobal believes that his fighter is indeed ready.
“We feel this kid is world championship material. It’s time to take on a guy like Usmanee. He’s ready. I say this because he’s had an opportunity to be in several training camps, and all the feedback we get is that he’s ready for bigger and better things.”
“He was just in camp with Mercito Gesta and before that with Sharif Bogere and Marcos Maidana. He has sparred with several top fighters and handled himself very well.”
Although Rances has gone the distance in his last three bouts, most boxing pundits don’t see Friday Night Fight’s main event of the evening reaching the twelve round limit. Because of Usmanee’s aggressive fight style and Barthelemy’s willingness to trade, many ringside observers are expecting a Super Featherweight shootout.
“I think Rances is one of those boxers who fights to the level of his competition. The better the opponent, the more inspired he gets in training and during his performances,” claims Richard Dobal, President of Bad Dog Productions. “What I like about Usmanee is that we know him. They had an opportunity to spar a couple of years ago and Arash is a guy who comes to fight. Rances won’t have to find him. Those are the types of opponents that showcase Rances at his best.”
“My fighter loves to fight. He likes to get down and slug it out. These are the types of opponents that Rances stylistically does well against. We’re all conscious that Arash is a very tough fighter, and this is probably the toughest challenge that Rances has had to date. But these types of fights are necessary if you want to become a champion.”
Barthelemy will have to make a statement tonight against Usmanee if he hopes to garner high profile bouts with the elite of 130 pounds. Although the Super Featherweight division is not the deepest in boxing, the extended weight class is very top heavy.
Fighters like Yuriorkis Gamboa, WBO title holder Roman Martinez, WBA Champion Takashi Uchiyama, reigning IBF Champ Juan Carlos Salgado, Juan Carlos Burgos, and Diego Magdaleno currently rule the Junior Lightweight division.
If “Kid Blast” had his druthers, he would step in the ring with the best in boxing immediately.
“If it were up to me, I would step in the ring with the top fighters right now,” claims Rances Barthelemy. “All of the top ranked fighters should know that if they step in the ring with me, there’s going to be hell to pay. They’re going to be in for a fight.”
“I understand that my promoters and my management team have a plan and a pace set in order to get me to the elite level. But I would like to make it very clear that if it were up to me, I would fight all of the top fighters right now and they would be in the fight of their lives.”
Rances Barthelemy (17-0, 11 KOs) and Arash Usmanee (20-0, 10 KOs) will clash in the main event of the evening, as Warriors Boxing and Bad Dog Productions in association with the Magic City Casino, present the season premier of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights (10 PM Eastern on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, online through WatchESPN.com, and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app.) live from the Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida.
In the co-featured televised bout, Puerto Rican slugger Jonathan “Mantequilla” Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KOs) will take on Philadelphia’s Derek “Pooh” Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs).