Rances Barthelemy to make first defense of 135-pound title against ex-champ Mickey Bey on June 3

In his last fight, Rances Barthelemy became a two-time world champion by picking up a vacant 135-pound title. Now the crown's previous owner wants his hardware back.

Rances Barthelemy and Antonio DeMarco

Rances Barthelemy unloads a left hand at Antonio DeMarco during Barthelemy's unanimous decision victory last June. Barthelemy will defend his 135-pound title against Mikey Bey on June 3. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

Barthelemy (24-0, 13 KOs) will return to the ring for the first time since winning his second title late last year when he faces Mickey Bey (22-1-1, 10 KOs) on June 3 in a classic matchup of boxer-punchers at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET/PT).

Leading into the Barthelemy-Bey main event will be a 10-round bout between Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez (14-0, 10 KOs) and Mexican Victor Proa (28-1-2, 21 KOs), a pair of hard-hitting 118-pound prospects.

A native of Cuba now based in Las Vegas, Rances Barthelemy last year relinquished the 130-pound championship he won in July 2014 to move up a weight class. After two easy 135-pound wins over Angino Perez (second-round TKO, March 2015) and Antonio DeMarco (shutout 10-round unanimous decision, June 2015), Barthelemy got his second shot at a world title when he fought Denis Shafikov on December 18 in Las Vegas.

Although it took some time for him to figure out the super-aggressive Shafikov, Barthelemy eventually used his long reach advantage and stinging left hand to seize control of the fight and cruise to a unanimous decision victory. The last man to possess Barthelemy’s shiny new belt was Bey, who won it with a 12-round unanimous decision over onetime champion Miguel Vazquez in September 2014.

However, a hand injury forced Bey to the sidelines for 15 months, and as a result, he had to give up his crown.

“Barthelemy won my title, so all he is doing is keeping it warm for me,” said Bey, a 32-year-old native of Cleveland. “I’m looking forward to the challenge with him being undefeated and a two-time world champion. We both have a lot of skills, so it will make an entertaining fight for sure.”

Bey actually ended his layoff the same night and in the same venue where his old hardware got redistributed, having defeated Naim Nelson by a lopsided unanimous decision on the undercard of the Barthelemy-Shafikov clash.

The victory over Nelson was Bey’s fourth in a row since suffering his only professional defeat: a 10-round TKO loss to John Molina Jr. in July 2013. In that fight, Bey was leading by a wide margin on all three scorecards when he got stopped with a minute to go in the bout.

Now, Bey will get the opportunity to ruin Barthelemy’s perfect record. It doesn’t figure to be easy, though, as the 29-year-old Barthelemy has won all 24 of his fights by either stoppage or unanimous decision.

Also, as was the case against Shafikov, the 5-foot-11 Barthelemy will enter the ring against the 5-foot-9½ Bey with advantages in height and reach (73 inches vs. 69 inches).

“There were rumors that a fight between me and Mickey Bey was on the brink of happening prior to my fight against Denis Shafikov, so now that it is here, I know it was destined to happen,” says Barthelemy, who won his 130-pound title over Algenis Mendez and defended it once before rising to 135.

“I’m not a rookie anymore. I’m not going into this worried or nervous about it being my first title defense at 135. I’m comfortable enough now to see every fight as just another challenge. I [just] need to execute my game plan effectively and with the least amount of errors.”

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