Sammy Vasquez, Jr. Steals Show From Rances Barthelemy

Sunday afternoon boxing on CBS delivered with its undercard fight, which was nice, because the main event was a one-sided fight that forecasted as such.

Rances Barthelemy outclassed Antonio DeMarco in every round, only losing a point for low blows in the 9th round, drawing mysterious boos from the crowd, since he completely deserved it. The only other mystery in this fight was whether Barthelemy, moving up to 140 lbs., could carry any power with him. He answered that in the 4th, dropping the usually resilient DeMarco, and he stayed aggressive enough, if not as aggressive as he could be, throughout. But on paper, we all knew this fight would look at least something like this — 99-89 times three on the scorecards — as long as Barthelemy wasn’t outsized. Barthelemy was a Cuban amateur, which translates to “really good at boxing,” and DeMarco has gotten by on toughness alone for his whole career. Barthelemy established himself as a potential player at 140 against a former contender-turned-gatekeeper, and the idea of Barthelemy-Terence Crawford is especially appetizing for fans of boxer-punchers, even though Crawford is on HBO and promoted by Top Rank, while Barthelemy was on an Al Haymon-led PBC card, which translates to “not bloody likely,”

Thank goodness, then, for Sammy Vasquez, Jr.-Wale Omotoso at welterweight, because they made the card worthwhile. Vasquez dominated the bulk of the fight, but looked vulnerable throughout, opening himself up to counters with wild shots. The scorecards of 98-92 across the board, while accurate, didn’t reflect the intensity of the bout, especially late. Vasquez was bloodied in the 5th from an elbow. An uppercut from an appropriately maniacal Omotoso in the 8th busted his snout, and we’ll talk about that round as one of the better of 2015, when the year comes to an end; rather than retreat, Vasquez slugged, which was stupid in the long-term but great for the fans in the short-term. In the 9th, a head butt opened another cut on Vasquez’s forehead, which gave him the whole “outlaw days of wrestling/blading” look. In the 10th, Vasquez fought like the man needing to win the round, which was commendable. As if we ever might doubt the heart of a U.S. veteran, Vasquez demonstrated that he was more than ready to brawl needlessly, because his boxing ability was superior. From here, it’s a question of whether he decides to be an action hero or to be a more established boxer who takes advantage of his amateur-honed abilities. Either works. But, a little guiltily, this writer says he hopes that the prospect fights more with his cojones than his brains, going forward.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.