"He's ready" says Richard Dobal, President of Bad Dog Productions and co-promoter of IBF #6 super featherweight Rances "Kid Blast" Barthelemy (17-0, 11 KOs).
Miami-based Dobal has been with the 26-year-old Cuban Barthelemy from the beginning of his career and is hoping to watch him join the elite ranks of the 130-lb division when he faces #14-rated contender Arash Usmanee (20-0, 10 KOs) on Friday, January 4, 2013 in a 12-round elimination bout for the IBF's #2 position.
Barthelemy and Usmanee will meet in the main event that night, as Warriors Boxing and Bad Dog Productions in association with the Magic City Casino, present the year's debut broadcast 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 Stage 305 in 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).
"My partner Leon (Margules of Warriors Boxing), his manager Henry Foster and I feel this kid is world championship material. It's time to take on a guy like this. He's ready," continued Dobal. "I say that 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 Marco Maidana. He's sparred several top guys and handled himself very well."
Dobal says his fighter is in the perfect place at the perfect time, facing Afghani-Canadian Usmanee for a top spot in the rankings.
"Whenever we've put an opponent in front of him where he had to step up, such as Hylon Williams, Rances proved he was ready. I think he's one of those fighters that the better the opponent, the more inspired he gets in training and in his performance. What I like about Usmanee is that we know him. They had an opportunity to spar a couple years ago and Arash is a guy who comes to fight. Rances won't have to find him and those are the type of opponents that showcase Rances at his best. Rances likes to fight. He likes to get down and slug it out. These are the types of opponents that Rances stylistically will do well against. We're all conscious that Arash is a very tough fighter and this is probably the toughest fight that Rances has ever had. But these are the types of guys you have to fight to become a champion."
Barthelemy recently moved his base of operations back to Florida after spending time in Vegas working with well-respected trainer Miguel Diaz.
"He is with new trainers now, John David Jackson and with Chico Rivas, and they put a little more emphasis on strength and conditioning. We're very grateful to Miguel in Vegas who worked with him all this time, but Rances is going to be a father soon and the distance from his fiancé with him living in Vegas wasn't working, so he made the decision to come back to Miami to support to his new family. Rances is a very good kid and family comes first."