By Elisinio Castillo
Rances Barthelemy was so focused for his rematch against Kiryl Relikh, that when they told him the fight had been postponed until further notice, he could not help but grimace. His mind and body were ready for February 10 and now the fight will take place on March 10.
"At first I felt bad, because in my mind I already saw myself as a champion on February 10," said the Cuban to George Ebro. "Then I took it as something that I had to take advantage of in my favor, to polish certain things, review everything. I will arrive in better condition than I would have in February 10."
The second match against Relikh broke down in principle when Mickey Garcia's opponent, Sergey Lipinets, injured a hand during a training session and was forced to ask for more preparation time. Garcia vs. Lipinets is the headline fight of the show.
The fight venue has been changed from the Alamodome to the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas.
"We are talking about a few more weeks," said Barthelemy, who trains under Professor Ismael Salas. "We have lowered the intensity a bit, but we will soon resume the pace that will allow us get ahead for this commitment. ''
Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs) goes for the vacant 140 pound title of the World Association (WBA), in search of becoming the first Cuban to conquer three weight divisions.
When the Cuban and the Belarussian first met on May 20, Barthelemy received a unanimous decision that at that time made him a mandatory challenger for then titleholder Julius Indongo, who would then be defeated by Terence Crawford.
The result of the first fight, however, was so close and controversial that the WBA ordered a new clash between Barthelemy and Relikh (21-2, 19 KO), setting the stage for this rematch that arouses many expectations.
"The goal of winning three titles is something that does not get out of my head," added Barthelemy, who won world titles at 130 and 135 pounds.
"It's almost an obsession, but I've channeled everything to not despair and put into practicing the fight plan that we have already agreed upon. There is little left, and less is needed. March 10 is the appointment."