The eight-bout card for ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” 17th-season debut at Target Center Jan. 3 featured a co-main event where Osseo’s Caleb Truax drew with Ossie Duran in a match that could have gone either way.
The other main event saw Rances Barthelemy knock out Mike Tyson-promoted Argenis Mendez at the second round bell in an IBF Junior Lightweight Championship. Barthelemy (20-0, 13 KOs) scored a pair of knockdowns in the round with the second coming on a three-punch combination as the bell sounded. Referee Pete Podgorski counted Mendez out after the round before Barthelemy began to celebrate his first world title.
Tyson acknowledged the friendly crowd before Truax/Duran and sat across the ring from former trainer Teddy Atlas, who was doing the analysis on the ESPN broadcast. Tyson and Atlas spoke briefly for the first time in three decades before the final Friday ESPN broadcast in August.
As part of the undercard, Coon Rapids’ Willshaun Boxley (6-9-1, 4 KOs) lost a six-round unanimous decision to St. Paul’s Tony Lee (9-1-1, 3 KOs).
The pro-Lee crowd was treated to a closer bout than the judge’s scorecard showed, given Boxley’s last fight came in February 2011.
With so much time away from competition and training, Boxley knew the bout would be a classic comeback fight.
“I’m the underdog there and I knew I had the ability to knock him out and I almost did in the early rounds,” he said.
Lee was a familiar foe from their amateur boxing days. “I was gassed after the second round but I saw fans and friends stand up and cheer for me and so I actually willed that fight all the sixth,” Boxley said. “I felt like I had nothing in the tank. I felt I knocked him out in the third round.”
Lee kept picking his shots while Boxley put together a few flurries of fists with an overhand right and left hook. Lee responded with his own combinations but Boxley tried his best to weave away.
Lee came out aggressively in the fourth round and Boxley reversed the situation sending Lee into the corner while connecting on body shots.
Boxley admitted after the bout that he injured his left arm a week before the fight. As a result he wasn’t as active with his left jab.
According to Boxley, he put on too many miles running and seemed to injure his knee in the process. Unfamiliar with the Long Lake area, Boxley did a nine-mile run, farther than he anticipated. “I had icicles on my eye lids and my knee was sore,” he said. “It feels good to be back training again and doing this again. Next fight I’ll have him. Tonight was a comeback fight and it showed.”
Boxley loss by unanimous decision to Ryan Kielczweski in New York City in his previous match and dropped to 1-9-1 in his last 12 bouts (he had a no contest due to rain against William Hernadez in August 2011).
Lee won for the fifth time in six bouts with a draw the only blemish on his record since November 2011.
Lee beat Boxley twice in the amateur ranks. Look for a rematch as the two are part of Seconds Out Promotions.
Fellow Coon Rapids resident and Liberian native Nate Richardson couldn’t find a win either, losing a split decision to Damien Hill (Crystal) in his second professional boxing match.
The four-round light middleweight bout was the final match of the evening and Hill won his first match – 39-37 by two judges, while a third scored the contest 38-38.
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