By Keith Idec
Rances Barthelemy mostly remained respectful toward Robert Easter Jr. on Thursday.
Barthelemy’s trainer, former two-division champion Joel Casamayor, offered a much more provocative prediction ahead of their lightweight title fight Saturday night. Casamayor called a knockout victory for Barthelemy, who’s about a 4-1 underdog against the former IBF lightweight champion.
“We are going to give the fans a surprise,” Casamayor said at a press conference at The Cosmopolitan. “We are winning by knockout. It’s going to be ‘Easter Dinner’ on Saturday night. He better be ready. Rances is bringing the knockout.”
The 28-year-old Easter (21-1, 14 KOs) has lost only a 12-round unanimous decision to Mikey Garcia. That lopsided points defeat came in Easter’s last outing, a lightweight title unification fight July 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The 32-year-old Barthelemy (27-1, 14 KOs) has not been knocked out during his nine-year pro career, either. He suffered his lone loss in his 12-round rematch with Belarus’ Kiryl Relikh (23-2, 19 KOs), who beat Barthelemy by unanimous decision 13 months ago in San Antonio.
“I take nothing away from Robert Easter Jr., because he’s a great champion,” Barthelemy said. “But I can do everything. I can fight on the inside, on the outside, I have power and I’ve fought against great opposition.”
Barthelemy’s past three fights have been contested within the junior welterweight division. The former WBA world 140-pound champion can become a two-time lightweight champion by defeating Easter in the main event of a Showtime tripleheader from The Chelsea inside The Cosmpolitan.
“I have a very competitive fight in front of me,” Barthelemy said. “I’ve worked with Joel Casamayor, who has great experience combined with mine. We have great chemistry and I’m ready for everything to come together on Saturday night.
“I thank Robert Easter Jr. for taking the challenge, but I’m going to make him dance to the rhythm of the ‘Cuban Salsa’ on Saturday night. It’s going to get caliente.”
Showtime’s broadcast will begin Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
In the opening bout, Nigerian heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba (9-0, 8 KOs) and Germany’s Michael Wallisch (19-1, 12 KOs) are scheduled to meet in a 10-rounder. Immediately before the Easter-Barthelemy bout, Ukraine’s Viktor Postol (30-2, 12 KOs) will face France’s Mohamed Mimoune (21-2, 2 KOs) in a 12-round WBC super lightweight elimination match.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.