Mendez to Defend His Junior Lightweight Title Against Rances Barthelemy

It looks like the New Year will bring Argenis Mendez some Friday Night Fights

The 27-year-old Dominican boxer, the reigning junior lightweight titlist, will defend his title against Rances Barthelemy on January 3 as the new season of ESPN2‘s Friday Night Fights kicks off with the first of 26 cards, said Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules.

Argenis Mendez

The Mendez-Barthelemy bout will take place at Minneapolis’ Target Center and feature an appearance by card co-promoter Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion.

Mendez (21-2-1, 11 Kos) won the title in March by knocking out Juan Carlos Salgado in the fourth round.

In his first defense, Mendez retained the belt, escaping with a majority draw against Arash Usmanee on Aug. 23.

Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KOs), a 27-year-old Cuban defector living in Miami, knocked out Thailand’s Fahsai Sakkreerin in the second round in a June 21 title elimination fight to earn the mandatory title shot against Mendez.

Iron Mike Productions is excited to be hosting the first ESPN Friday Night Fights show of 2014,” Iron Mike Productions chief executive Garry Jonas said. “We closed the 2013 ESPN Friday Night Fights season with an exciting championship fight [Mendez-Usmanee], and now we’re opening 2014 with an exciting championship fight.”

Margules, who promotes Barthelemy, won the purse bid for the fight in October, offering $51,000 as the only bidder. That bid entitles Mendez, as the titleholder, to 75 percent of the money ($38,250) with Barthelemy getting the remaining 25 percent ($12,750).

“This will be Rances Barthelemy, my fighter’s, first world title shot, and I’m very excited for him and his chances to bring the belt home,” Margules said.