– Denis Shafikov found success early by bullying his way inside on Rances Barthelemy, getting in his chest and smothering him with punches.
– By the middle of the fight, Barthelemy began to use his considerable reach advantage by working behind his jab and then peppering Shafikov with left hands.
– The action remained heated all the way through a blazing Round 12, with Barthelemy pulling away for a unanimous decision, winning by scores of 119-109 and 116-112 twice.
Turns out your girlfriend was lying: Size does matter. At least in the sport of boxing, where it pays to have arms as long as your opponent’s legs, especially when you’re trying to fend off a dude coming at you like a bowling ball destined for a strike.
Just ask Rances Barthelemy (24-0, 13 KOs), who overcame a slow start Friday night, ultimately using his height and reach advantage to fend off a hard-charging Denis Shafikov (36-2-1, 19 KOs). In winning a 12-round unanimous decision in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas, Barthelemy snatched a vacant 135-pound world title and became a two-time world champ.
But it wasn’t easy, namely because Barthelemy didn’t use his superior length to his advantage from the get-go.
Early on in the fight, Shafikov was able to bully his way inside on Barthelemy, who largely neglected his jab after Round 1. The tough Russian got right in Barthelemy’s chest, hitting him with both hands around his guard and just plain roughing up the onetime 130-pound champ.
Once Shafikov got his motor running, that engine purred, with Shafikov laying rubber around the ring, constantly surging forward while Barthelemy settled for pot shots, lobbing one punch at a time.
What’s more, the 5-foot-11 Barthelemy continually negated his six-inch height advantage by crouching down and leaning into Shafikov, only to get his ears hammered whack-a-mole style.
But by Round 8, Barthelemy finally turned the fight his way for good by rediscovering his jab and working behind it, keeping his 30-year-old opponent at bay and then smashing him with sweat-spraying left hands. It was at this point that blood began to pour from a cut above Shafikov’s right eye that got reopened numerous times throughout the duration of the bout.
By Round 10, Barthelemy was feeling his oats, keeping his hands down as if to lure Shafikov in for the attack. The 29-year-old shuffled his feet and windmilled his left hand several times, much to the delight of his vocal fan base, which chanted “Cuba!” and waved the island nation’s flags in support of their countryman.
He gave them plenty to cheer for in return, pulling away for a comfortable victory by scores of 119-109 and 116-112 twice.
- Barthelemy vs Shafikov