It took nearly a year, but Kiryl Relikh got what he believed was a deserved win in the scorecards against Rances Barthelemy.
In the rematch of their highly controversial first bout from 2017, Relikh defeated Barthelemy by unanimous decision (117-110, 118-109, 118-109) to win the vacant WBA junior welterweight title. Fightful scored the fight in favor of Relikh 120-107. The fight opened a Showtime Championship Boxing world title doubleheader from San Antonio, Texas.
Relikh dominated the fight by outworking Barthelemy, showing he was the clear aggressor throughout the fight. Relikh’s extremely high volume of punches thrown forced Barthelemy to play defense during most of the fight. Relikh landed 249 out of 1,237 total punches (20 percent) while Barthelemy only threw a little more than a third of Relikh’s punches, connecting 137 of 494 total punches (28 percent), according to Showtime's stats.
Barthelemy did manage to land strong power punches to keep Relikh from making it a complete blowout, but Barthelemy was also engaging in a lot of dirty fighting. On multiple occasions, Barthelemy low-blowed Relikh and it cost Barthelemy a point in the seventh round. Despite multiple warnings from the referee, Barthelemy continued to punch Relikh at the beltline or below the belt. In the end, nothing stopped Relikh from avenging his last loss and winning a world title.
Their first encounter was a similarly fought affair, with Relikh clearly outworking and outlanding Barthelemy. But the judges gave the fight to Barthelemy regardless with a unanimous decision of 116-110, 115-111 and 117-109, drawing the ire of boxing fans and WBA President Gilberto Mendoza, who ordered a rematch between the two for the vacant world title.
Relikh wins his first world title after losing out in his other WBA junior welterweight world title challenge in 2016 against Ricky Burns. The win also snapped Relikh's two-fight losing streak.