By Jake Donovan
At some point, Rances Barthelemy and his team will reach a point where they realize the only way to claim championship status is by winning his scheduled July 10 rematch with Argenis Mendez.
A motion for Summary Disposition requested by Barthelemy through his legal team to review the proceedings leading to his January 3 bout with Mendez changed to a No-Contest was denied by the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings on Monday.
The ruling upholds a decision made by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to overturn the official decision of their aforementioned title fight from a 2nd round knockout win for Barthelemy to a No-Decision. The original verdict resulted in Barthelemy claiming a 130 lb. title, a status the Cuban is determined to reclaim, as it would result in a significant pay increase for their upcoming rematch.
Mendez’ team filed an appeal shortly after the conclusion of their bout, on the basis that the knockout verdict came due to his being struck with a blow after the bell had sounded to end the second round of their ESPN2-televised bout. Referee Peter Podgorski was not in position at the time, thus ruling the sequence an official knockdown and declaring Mendez unfit to continue.
The appeal was ruled in Mendez’ favor and the decision was overturned by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Inudstry on January 30. Barely two weeks later, Barthelemy’s legal team filed an appeal, which was denied.
Their next step was to file a motion for a Summary Disposition, which came in mid-April, charging that the ruling made by the MDLI was unfounded and contradictory to what is outlined the unified rules of the Association of Boxing Commissions, that the referee is the sole arbiter of a prizefight and, as such, the referee’s decision should be recognized as final.
Separate counter motions were filed by both Mendez’ team and the MDLI. Monday’s ruling landed in favor of the latter two, which means the No-Decision stands, and Mendez remains champion heading into the July 10 rematch in Miami, Florida.
“The Administrative Law Judge finds that the Commissioner had the authority to overrule the referee,” Judge Laurasue Schlatter, presiding over the case, stated in a memorandum distributed to all parties, of which a copy has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. “The Administrative Law Judge finds that the Commissioner’s decision declaring the January 3, 2014 boxing match a No Decision is supported by undisputed material facts.”
Had the motion been ruled in Barthelemy’s favor, a pre-hearing telephone conference would have taken place on Tuesday. Had his team successfully argued for the status of the first bout to return to its original in-ring ruling, Barthelemy would enter the rematch recognized as champion and Mendez as the challenger. Such status would have meant a reversal in the pay split between the two fighters.
Because the fight went to a purse bid, Mendez – as defending champion – is entitled to 75% of the purse split, with the remaining 25% to go to Barthelemy and his team.
The April 15 purse bid was won by Iron Mike Productions (IMP), Mendez’ promoter who offered $261,000 for the right to promote next month’s rematch. The bid barely edged out the $251,000 amount submitted by Warriors Promotion, Barthelemy’s promoter.
During the downtime between the two fights, Barthelemy signed with high-powered, low-profile boxing adviser Al Haymon earlier in March. The move was expected to gain the top 130 lb. contender additional leverage during such proceedings, but Haymon’s involvement in the rematch has been minimal at best.
The lofty bid amount for this fight means both fighters get a significant pay increase from the last time they met in the ring. Their first fight served as the 2014 season premiere of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights.
Mendez (21-2-1-1ND, 11KO) won the title more than a year ago, scoring a 4th round knockout over Juan Carlos Salgado in their rematch last March. The return go with Barthelemy will mark his third title defense, though he has yet to record a single win since originally claiming the title. His first title defense resulted in a controversial 12-round split decision draw with Arash Usmanee last August.
Barthelemy (19-0-0-1ND, 12KO) earned his way to a title fight with a 2nd round knockout of Fahsai Sakkreerin last June. The win was far more conclusive than the one that helped him get to that point, a highly disputed 12-round win over Usmanee in Jan ’13, in fact exactly 52 weeks prior to his clash with Mendez, both of which kicked off separate seasons of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights.
Network rights for the rematch – which takes place on a Thursday – have yet to be secured, or at least announced.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox