On Friday, January 3, 2014, at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Iron Mike Productions, Seconds Out Promotions and Warriors Boxing will proudly present the year's first installment of ESPN Friday Night Fights, featuring two title fights as the featured bouts.
The night's 12-round main event will be an IBF Super Featherweight Championship fight between champion Argenis Mendez (21-2-1, 11 KOs) of Brooklyn, New York via San Juan, Dominican Republic vs. #1-ranked undefeated challenger Rances "Kid Blast" Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KOs) from Miami, via Cuba.
And in the 10-round televised semi-final, USBA Middleweight Champion Caleb "Golden" Truax (23-1, 4 KOs) of Osseo, Minnesota, will face former USBA Champion Derek "Pooh" Ennis (23-4-1, 13 KOs) of Philadelphia in a 10-round non-title bout.
Tickets for Friday Night Fights go on sale Friday, November 22, at 12 noon and will be priced at $35, $65, $100, $150 and $250. They will be available at Target Center's Box Office, online at AXS.com or by calling 888.9.AXS.TIX (888.929.7849).
27-year-old Mendez will be making the second defense of his IBF title he won in March of this year with a KO 4 over Juan Carlos Salgado. The victory over Salgado also avenged one of only two defeats Mendez has suffered in his distinguished career. He was last seen in the ring fighting to a majority draw against Arash Usmanee in August. Mendez was a 2004 Olympian and previously held the USBA Super Featherweight (2010) and WBA Fedelatin Super Featherweight (2008) Titles.
27-year-old Barthelemy earned his #1 ranking with a KO 2 over Thailand's Fahsai Sakkreerin last June. Before that, he took a unanimous decision over Arash Usmanee in January. Barthelemy is the younger brother of Olympic Gold Medalist Yan Barthelemy and older brother of Leduan Barthelemy, also a fighter. As an amateur, he was Cuban Junior National Champion.
30-year-old Truax has had a sensational 2013. Fighting out of the Convention Center in Minneapolis, Truax has vanquished two local rivals (UD 10 over Matt Vanda and TKO 4 over Ceresso Fort) and scored a nationally televised TKO 6 over world-rated Donovan George.
The victory over Fort garnered him the USBA and Minnesota State Championships. Truax's only career loss was to world champion Jermain Taylor and Truax had Taylor down in round nine.
33-year-old Ennis is a former USBA and Pennsylvania State Champion. He won the USBA Jr. Middleweight title in October 2009 by unanimous decision in an unforgettable war against Eromosele Albert and defended it successfully via 12-round majority decision over the formidable Gabriel Rosado in 2010 He most recently fought to a close majority decision loss to world-rated contender Jonathan Gonzalez. Ennis's brother, Farah, is a well-regarded super middleweight contender and his father, Derrick "Bozy" Ennis, was also a pro fighter.
"Iron Mike Productions is excited to be hosting the first ESPN Friday Nights Fight show of 2014," Iron Mike Productions CEO Garry Jonas said. "We closed the 2013 ESPN Friday Night Fights season with an exciting championship fight and now we're opening 2014 with an exciting championship fight. We'd like to thank Brian Kweder, of ESPN, for giving us this wonderful opportunity. We're looking forward to putting on a sensational event for the great boxing fans in Minnesota."
"I am honored to be returning to a great fight city like Minneapolis and to be working with the great Mike Tyson and his promotional company, as well as a class act like Tony Grygelko and his Seconds Out Promotions," said Leon Margules. "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."
"I'm very excited to be working with Iron Mike Promotions and Warriors Boxing to kick off the ESPN Friday Night Fights season here in Minneapolis," said Tony Grygelko.
"I'm happy to be going back to my hometown of Minneapolis for this great event with one of the greatest fighters ever, the legendary Mike Tyson," said long-time boxing adviser, Luis DeCubas.
On fight night, doors open at 6 pm, first bell is at 7 pm. ESPN broadcast starts at 8 pm.