Former IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. and former two-division champion Rances Barthelemy will meet for the vacant WBA regular lightweight title on Saturday, April 27th live on Showtime from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. [Editor's note: This will be a secondary or regular title because Vasyl Lomachenko holds the WBA super championship, having beaten the former WBA champ, Jorge Linares]. Showtime coverage will also feature former WBC 140-pound title holder Viktor Postol taking on France’s Mohamed Mimoune in a WBC eliminator, while rising heavyweight Efe Ajagba looks to remain unbeaten against once-beaten German Michael Wallisch in a ten rounder.
Easter (21-1) will return to the ring for the first time since losing his IBF title in a unification showdown vs. with WBC champion Mikey Garcia last July. Barthelemy (27-1) is also a former 130-pound title hoder who is undefeated at 135 pounds. He returns to the lightweight division for his second fight since losing a 140-pound title rematch to Kiryl Relikh last March.
“Two former champions looking to reclaim their championship status speaks for itself in terms of the action and will to win that Easter and Barthelemy will bring on April 27th,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Both guys have already proven that they have what it takes to take care of business at this level. The eliminator bout, with Postol bringing his experience and Mohamed looking to take advantage of the opportunity, is a great lead-in to the main event attraction. Plus, Efe Ajagba will bring his A+ game in pursuit of a victory over Michael Wallisch. The fans in attendance at the Cosmopolitan here in Las Vegas, and tuning in on Showtime, are in for a treat.”
“Easter vs. Barthelemy is a true 50-50 fight that will end with one of these fighters leaving the ring with one of the top spots in the lightweight division,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Both are former world champions at lightweight and possess the styles and attributes that should make this an action-packed match. Combined with a very competitive title eliminator between Viktor Postol and Mohamed Mimoune, plus the can’t-miss punching power of Efe Ajagba, this is going to be a dramatic night on SHOWTIME and at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions in association with About Billions Promotions, go on sale Monday, April 1st, and can be purchased at www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com or through Ticketmaster.
The 28-year-old Easter (21-1, 14 KOs) won the IBF Lightweight Championship in 2016 by edging an exciting split-decision against then-unbeaten and current IBF titleholder Richard Commey. After two successful title defenses in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, Easter defeated former champion Javier Fortuna by decision in a January 2018 fight.
That victory set up a unification with WBC champion Mikey Garcia, in which Easter survived an early knockdown to push Garcia the full 12 rounds before coming up short on the scorecards. At 5-foot-11, Easter has continued to show the combination of size, skill and athleticism that made him a highly regarded prospect following an amateur career that featured a spot as an alternate on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
"I’ve wanted to fight Barthelemy since he had the lightweight title and vacated it, and now I have the chance," said Easter. "He has an awkward style and I'm up for that challenge. I am still coming in as the taller fighter with a reach advantage and I’ll use it to make this fight go how I want it to. He is a former world champion and he is coming to bring it just like I am."
A decorated Cuban amateur who hails from a boxing family that includes his older brother, Olympic Gold Medalist Yan, and younger brother, unbeaten featherweight Leduan, Rances Barthelemy (27-1, 14 KOs) will return to lightweight to vie against one of the best fighters in the division. The 32-year-old now trains in Las Vegas and previously captured a 135-pound belt by defeating Denis Shafikov in December 2015.
Barthelemy won a 130-pound championship by defeating Argenis Mendez in 2014 and attempted to become the first Cuban three-division champion when he moved up to 140-pounds for his first fight against Relikh, a title eliminator that he won by decision. After dropping the rematch to Relikh in a vacant title fight on SHOWTIME, Barthelemy returned to the ring in December and stopped Robert Frankel.
“I’m looking forward to a great fight against Robert Easter Jr,” said Barthelemy. “I know I have what it takes to beat him and capture another title and become a three-time world champ. My best performances have come at 135 pounds. Both of us are former world champions who are hungry and will give the fans a sensational night of boxing. I’ve never lost at lightweight and that will continue on April 27. Don’t miss this fight on SHOWTIME. It’s now or never!”
Originally from Ukraine, but now fighting out of Los Angeles, Postol (30-2, 12 KOs) previously earned a 140-pound world title by knocking out Lucas Matthysse in 2015. The 35-year-old dropped the title in a unification showdown with Terence Crawford in 2016 before bouncing back by defeating then unbeaten Jamshidbek Najmiddinov. Last June he dropped a decision to unbeaten contender Josh Taylor and most recently he defeated Siar Ozgul in November.
The 31-year-old Mimoune (21-2, 2 KOs) has fought professionally since 2010 and will be making his U.S. debut against Postol on April 27. Representing Haute-Garonne, France, he is unbeaten in his last 10 fights dating back to 2014. His last five victories have come in 12-round decisions, including two last year over then unbeaten Emiliano Dominguez and most recently against Franck Petitjean.
Nigeria’s Ajagba (9-0, 8 KOs) gained notoriety last August 24 when his opponent, Curtis Harper, walked out of the ring after touching gloves to start the first round. The 24-year-old, 2016 Nigerian Olympian won the fight without throwing a punch as Harper was disqualified. In his last fight Ajagba, who lives in Stafford, Texas and trains with Ronnie Shields, defeated his toughest competition to date by stopping longtime contender Amir Mansour after two rounds.
Fighting out of Munich, Germany, Wallisch (19-1, 12 KOs) won his first 19 pro fights after turning pro in 2010, including a German heavyweight title-winning performance in 2013 against Alexander Kahl. The 33-year-old fought three times last year, picking up two knockout victories before losing to Christian Hammer in December.