Rances Barthelemy (30-2-1, 15 KOs) rebounded from a defeat by Gary Antuanne Russell in July, securing a contentious majority decision against Omar Juarez (14-2, 5 KOs) in a super lightweight match. Barthelemy, previously a world champion in both the 130 and 135-pound categories, dominated the beginning and end of the fight, winning the first, second, ninth, and tenth rounds on all three judges’ scorecards. The final scores were 95-95, 97-93, and 98-92, all leaning towards Barthelemy.
The verdict was met with displeasure from the spectators at The Chelsea, who voiced their disagreement with boos, many believing that Juarez had performed well enough to earn the win. Barthelemy acknowledged the crowd’s support for Juarez, but also pointed out the encouragement he received from his Cuban followers.
The contest was a close one, with punch statistics showing Barthelemy decisively outperforming Juarez in the power punch category, 49% to 33%. Barthelemy expressed his intent to approach the fight strategically, using his intelligence against his younger opponent, which he believed he successfully executed.
Barthelemy, looking forward, expressed a strong desire to rematch with Russell, emphasizing that he yearns for it even more than a shot at the title.
Meanwhile, 23-year-old Juarez saw his three-match winning streak come to an end. Accepting the outcome, he confessed that he thought he had performed well enough to win and acknowledged his failure to maintain a dominant position as a key mistake. He pledged to work harder and be more aggressive in the future.
In the broadcast’s opening match, Kenneth Sims Jr., (20-2-1, 7 KOs) advanced towards his first world title opportunity by besting top super lightweight contender Batyr Akhmedov (9-3, 8 KOs) in a riveting WBA Super Lightweight World Title Eliminator. The fight ended in a majority decision for Sims, with scores of 116-112, 115-113, and 114-114. Following the announcement of his career-defining victory by Jimmy Lennon Jr., an emotional Sims fell to the canvas and tearfully embraced his father and trainer, Kenneth Sims Sr.
Sims, originally from Chicago but now training in Las Vegas, and Akhmedov, residing in Los Angeles and hailing from Uzbekistan, together landed 640 punches, marking the highest tally so far in 2023.
“I’ve been waiting for this for years,” Sims stated after claiming his seventh consecutive victory. “People didn’t expect me to be here, but I know I’m the best. At 140 pounds, I’m ready to take on anyone.”
Akhmedov landed 331 punches in the closely contested match, with Sims not far behind at 309. Sims connected with 46% of his power punches, slightly ahead of Akhmedov’s impressive 40%. In the championship rounds, Sims landed 87 power punches to Akhmedov’s 82.
Despite visible swelling around his right eye by the tenth round, Sims maintained his intensity until the fight’s conclusion. Sims, whose only two career losses came on the SHOBOX: The New Generation® prospect series, was unfazed by the physical toll, stating, “I expected this. I’m a savage, a fighter. I’ve been telling people that I have that fight in me, and I showed them. My eye wasn’t a concern to me.”
Expressing his future ambitions, Sims stated, “I want the main event’s winner. I want the title. That’s it. Whoever wins the main event is who I want.”
Akhmedov, however, believed he had won the fight, despite another narrow loss by decision. His two previous defeats were also close points losses. Akhmedov expressed frustration, believing that he was outperforming his opponents but was being overlooked by the judges. He insisted on his superior performance, claiming he was landing more punches and causing more damage.