By Jake Donovan
The anticipated 130 lb. title fight rematch between Argenis Mendez and Rances Barthelemy now has a date, location and the blessing of the International Boxing Federation (IBF). The bout will take place on July 10 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida.
The IBF has formally sanctioned the contest, in which Mendez attempts the third defense of his title.
that the IBF has granted formal sanction approval for the (Mendez-Barthelemy rematch)," IBF Ratings Chairman Lindsay Tucker informed members of both camps, through a letter obtained by Boxingscene.com.
Mendez (21-2-1-1ND, 11KO) has yet to post an official victory since winning the title, despite owning two successful title defenses. The Dominican boxer won the belt with an emphatic 4th round knockout of Juan Carlos Salgado in their own rematch last March, avenging a split decision loss 18 months prior.
Since then, Mendez has been held to a draw versus Arash Usmanee and then saw a knockout loss to Barthelemy overturned to a No-Decision. The latter served as the headliner of the 2014 season premiere of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights this past January, as Barthelemy dropped Mendez twice and ruled a winner by way of 2nd round knockout to briefly claim the 130 lb. title.
However, the verdict was overturned later that month, when - upon official appeal from the Mendez camp - the Minnesota Combat Sports Commission ruled that the fight ending blow took place after the bell had sounded to end the round.
Barthelemy's handlers fought to have the verdict stand, which was followed by an appeal to the IBF for a more favorable percentage of the purse split for the rematch than is normally granted to the challenger. Had the verdict held as originally ruled, Barthelemy would be the defending champion. Instead, he once again enters as challenger, which means he is only entitled to 25% of the total purse bid.
Looking to help stack the deck more towards an even playing field, the unbeaten Cuban inked a deal with high-power, low-profile adviser Al Haymon.
Mendez' promoter, Iron Mike Productions, won the purse bid last month, but had yet to find a home for the fight. The announced location actually grants hometown advantage to Barthelemy, who relocated from Cuba to Miami years ago.
The fight was originally thought to head to Showtime, given Haymon's sudden involvement as Barthelemy's adviser. However, the network seems unlikely to be involved given the rematch will take place on a Thursday.
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