Robert Easter Jr. and Rances Barthelemy fought to a fitting split decision draw as neither fighter seized the moment in world title bout Saturday night on Showtime.
In the end, however, following a fight that featured precious little action and contact from the opening bell, neither got that needed victory. Their 12-round bout, nationally televised on Showtime from the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, ended in a split decision draw, and the title remained vacant.
Amazingly, neither Easter (21-1-1, 14 KOs), who had lost his 135-pound title to Mikey Garcia last July, nor Barthelemy (27-1-1, 14 KOs) landed as many as 10 punches in any of the 12 rounds in a fight that was difficult to score and just as difficult to watch at times.
Judge Eric Cheek scored it 115-113 for Barthelemy, Tim Cheatham had it 115-113 for Easter and Glenn Trowbridge scored it 114-114.
Easter landed a paltry 54 punches over the 12 rounds and Barthelemy only 52 in a tactical fight that found both men, each known to be excellent counter-punchers, keeping their distance and mostly staying out of reach of the other’s power. Barthelemy started out in an orthodox stance but switched to southpaw in the third round, and stayed with it the rest of the way.
Naturally, both fighters felt they won the contest.
“I figured it was close but I figured I edged it out towards the end,” said Easter, the only boxing champion from Toledo, Ohio. “He didn’t want to come in and do nothing…Rances Barthelemy is a crafty fighter and stayed away from my power. And I was smart, too, on my end and didn’t take much punishment. I applied the pressure but the judges seen it a different way.”
Barthelemy, the Cuban defector and two-time champion, said, “I don’t want to disparage the job Robert Easter and what his (trainer) father did in his corner, but it’s not the Robert Easter we expected. We expected a fight and we didn’t see that, and I thought I definitely won the fight today.”
Asked why the lack of action, Barthelemy said, “We know that Robert Easter is a fighter that attacks, but he didn’t attack in this fight. Maybe in the ninth round he came in and lunged at me, but he never did it in the fight.”
Barthelemy said he felt very bad and believed he won the fight. He said he needs the belt and wants a rematch. Easter Jr. said he would be happy to oblige.
Viktor Postol dominates Mohamed Mimoune in title eliminator
At 35 and having lost two of his last four, there was plenty of doubt about whether former 140-pound champion Viktor Postol had any title hopes remaining.
But “The Iceman” answered his doubters Saturday with a dominating 10-round unanimous decision over light-hitting Frenchman Mohamed Mimoune, proving he has plenty left and putting himself in the mix for another title fight.
Postol (31-2, 12 KOs), from Ukraine and fighting out of Los Angeles under Freddie Roach, won by scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 99-91 over Mimoune (21-3, 2 KOs), who was making his U.S. debut in a fight that didn’t seem even as close as the cards suggested.
Postol dictated the pace early on, and in the middle rounds overcame the awkward southpaw style of his opponent, which included a tackle or two, and plenty of clinching. Postol kept his cool throughout the fight, and now finds himself back in the title hunt.
“I always try to stay disciplined,” Postol said. “I can’t say it was tough, but the opponent was awkward…it’s great to be here.”
The victory gives Postol a possible shot at Jose Ramirez, who now owns the WBC title once held by Postol.
“Of course, I would like to meet Ramirez and fight for the belt again,” said Postol.
Efe Ajagba extends unbeaten streak with second-round TKO of Michael Wallisch
The 25-year-old Ajagba (10-0, 9 KOs) wasted no time going after Wallisch, throwing 93 punches in the first round, an extremely high number for any fighter, but especially for a heavyweight. He used his powerful jab to keep Wallisch, 33, from getting inside. In the process, the German was cut over the left eye.
Ajagba, a 6-5, 245-pound physical marvel from Nigeria and now fighting under trainer Ronnie Shields in Texas, continued his high-powered work rate in the second round, punishing Wallisch with power in both hands, including an occasional uppercut and plenty more jabs.
At one point in the second round, Wallisch took a knee, and Ajagba hit him after he was down. Referee Tony Weeks stopped the count and gave Wallisch time to recover. It didn’t last long, however. After a damaging flurry by Ajagba on the ropes, Weeks had seen enough and stepped in and stopped it at 1:40. It was just the second loss for Wallisch, who fell to 19-2 (12 KOs) in his U.S. debut.
“The fighter was very tough, he took my best shots,” said Ajagba, who connected on 47 of 163 punches overall, including 32 of 75 power punches. “I took my time and used my jab to test him.”
Shields said his fighter is about a year away from title contention.
“We still have a lot to learn,” he said. “As you saw he’s a busy guy for a big guy; 93 punches in the first round, wow, that’s a lot. But that’s his work ethic. He’s in the gym every day, so he always wants to learn, and he never lets the other guy throw as many punches as he does.”
For a closer look at Easter vs Barthelemy, check out our fight night page.