By Elisinio Castillo
Cuba's Rances Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KO) is furious with the rumors that Argenis Mendez (21-2-2, 11 KO) is planning to vacate his title and move up in weight to the lightweight division. Barthelemy scored a two round knockout of Mendez in January, but a protest had the decision changed to a no-contest when Minnesota Athletic Commission agreed that Barthlememy scored the knockout with two punches that came after the bell. A rematch was then ordered by the IBF.
"I'm hearing that Mendez could vacate the title, claiming he can no longer make the weight and health reasons,'' said Barthelemy told George Ebro. "That makes me very upset, because he and his people have made all of this trouble with the protest and then he won't defend his title as he should. If this is so, I think it is cowardly.
"I do not care about the other [champions], those can come later. My only interest is in Méndez. This is personal. I want to beat him for myself, for my family and for my people. He can escape away with weight, but the stain will be forever on his career."