Rances Barthelemy of Cuba wins via unanimous decision against Kiryl Relikh of Belarus
The 5-foot-11 Arroyo Naranjo is now one step closer to become the first three-division world champion out of Cuba after winning against his opponent Kiryl Relikh in their WBA title eliminator match today in MGM National Harbor, Maryland as part of the Gary Russell Jr vs Oscar Escandon undercard. The three judges scored the fight 116-110, 115-111 and 117-109.
The reign continues
Barthelemy now holds an unblemished 26-0 (13 KOs) professional record. This is his first fight in the light welterweight division and the win made him one step closer to vie for his world title shot.
He previously held the IBF super featherweight and lightweight titles. He announced his desire to move up in weight shortly after scoring a split decision win against Mickey Bey last June 3, 016.
His victory gave the boxing-crazy nation Cuba a bright day after one of its prominent fighters in Yuriorkis Gamboa lost to Robinson Castellanos two weeks ago.
Barthelemy also was an amateur standout in Cuba, winning most of his 200 fights and registering a Cuban junior national championship title. His brothers Yan and Leduan Barthelemy are also professional fighters.
What's next for him?
The win makes him the mandatory challenger to right current WBA light welterweight title holder Julius Indongo of Namibia who also holds the IBF and IBO titles.
Currently, Barthelemy is included in the list of Cubans who are two-division world champions along with Joel Casamayor and Yuriorkis Gamboa. He is looking to be the first to win titles in three weight divisions.
Aside from Indongo, another viable opponent for Barthelemy in the 140-pound division is reigning WBC and WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford who just dominated his challenger, Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic, earlier today.