Robert Easter Jnr 21 (14 KOs)-1 (0 KOs)-0 takes on former two weight world champion Cuban Rances Barthelemy 27 (14 KOs)-1 (KOs)-0 for the vacant WBA Lightweight title at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Showtime this Saturday.

Sometimes a loss can galvanise a career and sometimes it can destroy it, but what both Robert Easter Jnr and Rances Barthelemy have shown is a willingness to mix it with the best. Losses to Mikey Garcia and Kiryl Relikh aren’t bad losses at all, but there is a sense that to whichever one loses on Saturday night the stars may not align again for a while.

The prospect, for Robert Easter Jnr to be able to in effect jump right back into where he was before the Garcia fight with a world title is extremely attractive, but the Cuban he is facing is certainly no slouch.

It is a case perhaps that both fighters have shown vulnerability in a very particular aspect of their game. For Easter who fights in that classic African American style it was being outworked and out hustled by Garica. Garcia made use of feints and with a good balance to find holes in the American moving backwards, and while that slick shoulder roll defence does work with some fighters, against Garcia it was definitely an advertisement that sometimes “basic is best”. Easter, a 5 foot 11 Lightweight with a 76 inch reach obviously likes it at range, but against Garcia it was perhaps a showing of while Easter has the physical attributes, his boxing brain isn’t quite elite yet. He has a snappy jab, and quick hands in general but if he were to make use of a few more feints and improve his hand position going backwards he might have more success.

Barthelemy from the Cuban school is straight out of that mould. I’ve never seen a fighter before who seems as relaxed as Barthelemy in the ring. His lead hand is almost comically low at his upper thigh rather than his waist. Though the term Cuban school does get thrown around I won’t put Barthelemy in the same bracket as someone like an Erislandy Lara. Barthelemy while relaxed, has a bit more of a workrate behind him that Lara, and obviously like any Cuban he likes to control the pace but he can work on the inside if needed.

In terms of picking a winner it is a close one. Both are tall rangy lightweights who throw a solid jab, have fast hands and don’t have too much pop in their punches, but whenever I’m in this predicament I always ask, “who has more ways they can win?” and that for me is Robert Easter Jnr. I think Easter is the fresher of the two and can switch up his style a little easier than Barthelemy. It is a tough one to call though, and with two rangy skilful fighters I doubt its going to be a barnburner, but I reckon Easter’s youth and versatility will trump Barthelemy who doesn’t seem to have the skillset to expose Easter like Garcia did.

On the undercard Victor Postol 30 (12 KOs)-2 (0 KOs)-0 takes on France’s Mohamed Mimoune 21 (2 KOs)-2 (0 KOs)-0 in a WBC Super-Lightweight title eliminator.

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