Barthelemy expects experience, talent to carry him past Bey in 135-pound title fight

Rances Barthelemy claims he is more powerful and has faced better competition than Mickey Bey heading into their title fight.

Rances Barthelemy and Mickey Bey

Rances Barthelemy (left) is making his first defense of the 135-pound world title formerly held by challenger Mickey Bey, who relinquished his crown last year amid a contractual dispute and a hand injury. (Stephanie Trapp/Premier Boxing Champions)

In fact, Barthelemy believes every intangible swings in his favor as he prepares for the first defense of his 135-pound world championship Friday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET/PT).

“I’m an all-around better fighter, levels above Mickey Bey in all aspects,” said the 5-foot-11 Barthelemy, who stands two inches taller than his opponent. “I have the reach, height and power over him, and he has shown in the past he can’t take a good punch. We will see if he can take mine.”

Rances Barthelemy (24-0, 13 KOs) became a two-division world champion in his last fight when he earned a unanimous decision over Russian slugger Denis Shafikov in December. In winning the bout, the 29-year-old Cuba native who now resides in Las Vegas earned the 135-pound championship that Bey vacated earlier in 2015.

Mickey Bey (22-1-1, 10 KOs) won the title in September 2014 when he gained a split decision over longtime champion Miguel Vazquez in Las Vegas, but vacated his crown without a defense last June after disagreeing with the terms to fight Shafikov while also dealing with a hand injury.

Bey ended a 15-month layoff with a workmanlike 10-round unanimous decision over Naim Nelson in December in his only bout since beating Vazquez, ironically coming in Las Vegas on the undercard of Barthelemy's victory over Shafikov. Now, Bey is ready to show Barthelemy firsthand that he is the superior boxer.

“I do think he’s a good fighter,” Bey said. "I give him his props; he’s a two-time world champion. But I don’t think he can do one thing better than me. I’m different than anybody he’s ever fought and a lot more difficult than he probably thinks."

At Thursday's weigh-in, Barthelemy hit the scale at 134.6 pounds and Bey came in at 134.2.

Bey’s only loss came in July 2013, when he was stopped in the 10th round by hammer-fisted John Molina Jr. The 32-year-old Cleveland native, who now trains in Las Vegas, has won four straight since then, including his title-earning victory over Vazquez, after which Bey had surgery on his right hand to repair damage from the fight.

“I found out how good I was against Vazquez because I was able to beat a guy that good with one hand,” Bey said. “Going into it, I already knew I was going to be fighting with one hand since it had been giving me problems.

“I couldn’t let both hands go, so I had to strategically land more accurate shots. I couldn’t let it become a high-volume fight, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to respond with both hands, so it’s going to be a completely different ballgame against Rances. I’m a better fighter. It’s that simple.”

The switch-hitting Barthelemy, who has won all of his fights either by unanimous decision or by knockout, disagrees with Bey's self-assessment, insisting the challenger hasn’t looked good against high-caliber competition. In addition to being dropped by Molina, Bey also was floored by Hector Velazquez in November 2011 and Alan Herrera in May 2014 before rebounding to win unanimous decisions in both fights.

“We all know what happened [to Bey] against John Molina, another Mexican who put him on the canvas,” Barthelemy said. “Bey has a suspect chin, so we will see if he can take my punch and if his chin can hold up against my power.”

For a complete look at Barthelemy vs Bey, visit our fight page.

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