By Chris Robinson
Recently I caught wind of some sparring sessions that have been taking place in the Vegas area between explosive junior lightweight puncher Lonnie Smith and unbeaten Cuban Rances Barthelemy and made it a must to check the sessions out.
I have gotten to know Smith fairly well in the past year and can attest that his 14-2-2 record with 10 knockouts doesn’t do justice to how offensively-gifted and tenacious he is inside of the ring. The 24-year old is presently riding a nice-bout unbeaten streak and is now staring his biggest test directly in the eye as he will be facing off with Vicente Escobedo on March 3rd in his opponent's hometown of Woodland, California.
I’ve seen Barthelemy perform inside of the ring on a few occasions, once in his second bout when I was still living in Florida as he blew away journeyman Vineash Rungea and again this past April as he battered local talent Rynell Griffin for a 2nd round TKO. Barthelemy reminds me a bit of the late Diego Corrales in that he may be tall and lanky yet packs a pretty dangerous punch and loves to mix it up.
Barthelemy, who is now trained by the respected Miguel Diaz, is presently eyeing a February 3rd assignment against silky-smooth boxer Hylon Williams Jr. at the nearby Cosmopolitan Hotel, a fight set to be televised by ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.
The Smith-Barthelemy sparring sessions took place at the Fight Capital gym on the west side of town and despite the two men having formed a bond with one another outside of the ring, they put their camaraderie aside once the bell rang, ripping each other with punishing shots for six frantic rounds.
In boxing they say that fights are won outside of the ring in training and if the recent work between Smith and Barthelemy is any indicator, they will be surely be ready for their respective bouts after having given each other hell for the past few weeks.
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at Trimond@aol.com