Denis Shafikov vs. Rances Barthelemy: Winner, Scorecard and Reaction

A memorable year for boxing is coming to a close, but not before delivering fireworks in Las Vegas with Rances Barthelemy defeating Denis Shafikov by unanimous decision to win the vacant IBF World Lightweight Championship. 

Here are the judges’ scores from Barthelemy’s victory, per ESPN’s Brian Campbell:

While the final result is not really in question, Showtime analyst Al Bernstein was critical of one judge scoring the fight 119-109 in favor of Barthelemy:

Barthelemy came into the bout with a perfect 23-0 record. The 29-year-old has looked like a star in the making thanks to brilliant performances, including a tremendous unanimous-decision win over Antonio DeMarco in June that put him in line for this title match.

There were moments when Barthelemy looked to be in complete control, including opening up a cut over Shafikov’s right eye that caused the referee to briefly pause the fight in the eighth round to have it looked at.

Heading into that eighth round, Campbell was critical of the way Barthelemy was fighting this match:

Barthelemy was trying to win a fight and not a boxing match. He was attacking with punches, which worked when they landed, but also left him vulnerable to shots from Shafikov, which Campbell pointed out:

There was a shift in the fight for Barthelemy when he just decided to start throwing everything and the kitchen sink at Shafikov, mostly starting in the ninth round, as the stats from CompuBox show:

The final stats from CompuBox show Barthelemy had a slight edge in total punches landed and solid accuracy with his power punches:

Coming into the fight, Barthelemy told Campbell on that he wasn’t concerned about the style he might have to utilize against Shafikov:

When I step into the ring and get a feel for how the fight is going, I like to adapt. I will defend when I have to defend, box when I have to box and throw punches when it’s time to stand there and fight. I don’t believe I’m going to have an issue doing that again. I’ve always had that style where I can switch it up between defense and offense.

While his defense wasn’t always on point, Barthelemy found an opening in Shafikov’s game in the later rounds that allowed him to attack with a reckless abandon that normally wouldn’t work because of how open he was leaving his face and body.

The turning point was when Barthelemy got to Shafikov’s right eye. The Cuban star was like a shark who could taste blood in the water and did not relent until the final bell sounded.

With Barthelemy now holding titles in two weight classes, his star is unquestionably on the rise. He got great exposure on national television against Shafikov and did not disappoint, so taking the next step to headlining pay-per-view shows for another title awaits in 2016.