By Jake Donovan
An appeal filed on behalf of Argenis Mendez to the Minnesota Combative Sports Commission has been received and is officially under review, Boxingscene.com learned Thursday afternoon.
Mendez’ team is seeking to overrule the final result of his January 3 bout with Rances Barthelemy, which served as the headliner for the 2014 season premiere of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights, from a 2nd round knockout loss to a no-contest/no-decision.
The bout aired live from the Target Center in Minneapolis, under the auspices of the Minnesota Combative Sports Commission and the International Boxing Federation (IBF). Both parties are in receipt of Mendez’ appeal; the IBF was contacted earlier in the week, while the Minnesota commission confirmed receipt Thursday afternoon.
“[T]he decision of the Mendez vs Barthelemy is under appeal,” Matt Schowalter, Executive Director of Minnesota Office of Combative Sports, confirmed in a note to all parties involved, including Warriors Boxing, Barthelemy’s promoter.
With the appeal, the opposing party—Barthelemy and his team—has the right to submit an official comment to also be taken into consideration. Warriors Boxing has until Monday, January 13 to do so.
The filing was based on the following areas, all in accordance with the Unified Rules of the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC):
B. Accidental fouls.
1. If an accidental foul causes an injury severe enough for the referee to stop the bout immediately, the bout will result in a NO DECISION if stopped before four (4) completed rounds. Four (4) rounds are complete when the bell rings signifying the end of the fourth round.
Referee Rules and Guidelines
A blow that strikes a boxer after the sounding of the bell is deemed to be a foul that the referee will determine if it was accidental or intentional.
Barthelemy knocked out Mendez with a series of punches, but at least two of them landing after the bell rang to end round two of their scheduled 12-round main event. Mendez, who was dropped earlier in the round, crashed to the canvas, at which point referee Peter Podgorski declared him unfit to continue.
Also noted in the appeal was the fact that Podgorski remained unaware that the bell had sounded, failing to move into proper position following the 10-second warning. The referee was actually behind Barthelemy at the end of the round, and still out of position even after the official timekeeper rang the bell a second and third time to alert all parties that the round was in fact over.
The win—for the moment—earned Barthelemy his first major title. The Cuban boxer made his way to the title stage after winning a pair of elimination bouts, both of which aired live on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. His first win to land in title contention came exactly 52 weeks prior to his win over Mendez, coming under equally questionable circumstances.
A unanimous decision win over Usmanee in 2013’s Friday Night Fights season opener was met with immediate resistance, including an on-air rant from color commentator Teddy Atlas. His following win was far more conclusive, raising his public appeal with a second round knockout of Fahsai Sakkreerin last June to secure his title shot.
While Mendez awaits the legal process to play out its course, the Dominican boxer remains an ex-titlist. His reign began last March, scoring a 4th round knockout of Juan Carlos Salgado to avenge a prior defeat 18 months prior. He has yet to score a win in an official title defense, as he was held to a disputed 12-round draw with Usmanee last August in the 2013 ESPN FNF season finale.
With the appeal now in the hands of the Minnesota commission, the first of three potential steps is now officially underway. The Executive Director (Schowalter) will review the case in full, at which point a decision will be made whether to reverse the official ruling in the ring, thus declaring the fight a no-decision and returning the IBF 130 lb. title back to Mendez.
If the matter remains unresolved, it will then go under review by an appointed Grievance Committee. Should the case still fail to reach a full resolution, it will then go to the commission for a full hearing.
The IBF still has the power to determine if special circumstances exist to warrant an immediate rematch, meaning an appeal with the New Jersey-based sanctioning body could land in Mendez’ favor regardless of what is eventually decided by the presiding commission.
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