LAS VEGAS — Robert Easter Jr. and Rances Barthelemy fought to a split-draw in their matchup for the vacant WBA Lightweight World Title Saturday on SHOWTIME from The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The challenging fight to score was ruled 115-113 Barthelemy, 115-113 Easter and 114-114. The WBA 135-pound title remains vacant following the split decision.
With both former world champions needing a win in a crossroads affair, neither fighter was able to pull the trigger in a matchup of talented counterpunchers. The tall, rangy lightweights competed on the outside for much of the 12-round bout, and while both relied on their reach to keep their opponent at bay, they failed to land many effective shots from the outside.
The switch-hitting Cuban Barthelemy (27-1-1, 14 KOs), who fought defensively for most of the fight, transitioned to mostly southpaw in the third. The former two-division world champion's most effective punches appeared to be body shots from the southpaw stance, while Easter (21-1-1, 14 KOs) was at his best when he countered with his right.
As the 12-round affair progressed, the corners of both fighters - Robert Easter Sr. and former Cuban champion Joel Casamayor - pleaded with their pugilists to increase their output to little avail. Neither fighter landed 10 punches in any round, and while Easter was slightly more active they combined to throw just 743 punches. They combined to land just 106 total punches.
"I feel I did enough to win this fight but the judges saw it differently," said Easter, who was fighting for the first time since losing to pound-for-pound great Mikey Garcia in a unification last summer. "They saw it a different way. Rances is a crafty fighter, an elusive fighter. I tried to take the fight to him but he wouldn't take it. It was hard to land my shots."
Barthelemy, who was returning to lightweight after losing a rematch to Kiryl Relikh in his bid to become Cuba's first three-division world champion, was frustrated with the decision.
"Robert was absent in the ring tonight," Barthelemy said. "I wanted him to land his right and he didn't. I wanted him to come forward and he didn't. We were prepared for a different Robert Easter - the one that attacks - but he didn't show up so I couldn't deliver my strategy.
"I landed the cleaner and more accurate shots. I feel I threw more punches. I was the busier fighter. I won the fight. I think this was a missed opportunity for me. I really feel I won this fight."