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Usmanee loses an unpopular decision

Arash Usmanee takes exception to the suggestion he lost a hometown decision Friday night in Miami.

“A hometown decision sounds like it was really close. A hometown decision sounds like it could have gone either way and then they gave it to the hometown guy,” the 30-year-old former Red Deer Boxing Club member said Sunday from Montreal, looking back at his highly controversial loss to Cuban junior lightweight Rances Barthelemy in the main event of an ESPN Friday Night Fights card.

“I just finished watching my fight again and it wasn’t even close to a hometown decision,” he continued. “It was a lopsided fight. I’m not a biased person. I watched it in my eyes and from a fan’s point of view, and either way there’s no way I lost that fight.”

While Barthelemy appeared to control the early rounds with his height and reach, Usmanee made the necessary adjustments in the fourth and controlled the fifth and sixth rounds, then outlanded his opponent in a big way through the seventh and eighth frames.

Usmanee, who moved to Red Deer from Afghanistan as a 12-year-old, learned his trade with the Red Deer Boxing Club and became a star with the Canadian amateur team, suffered a pair of head butts in Friday’s bout and might have lost the 10th round as a result.

But he came on strong in the 11th and absolutely dominated the 12th and final round, battering the Miami resident around the ring. Usmanee was a 117-111 winner on the card of Friday Night Fights commentator Teddy Atlas, but the three ringside judges scored it 115-113, 116-13, 116-113 for Barthelemy, who seemed shocked and then pleasantly surprised that he was the official winner.

Atlas, in particular, was incensed with the decision. Friday Night Fights host Joe Tessitore was also upset with the ruling.

“Something just doesn’t smell right here,” Tessitore suggested to Atlas.

“The smell has been around a long time, it didn’t just show up,” Atlas responded. “The sport is a corrupt sport, it is. There’s no answer for it other than corruption or incompetence and nobody can be that incompetent that consistently. It has to speak to something a lot worse than just being dumb, and it speaks to dishonesty.

“This is a dishonest sport. It needs a federal commission. I’ve been yelling about it for years. All the other sports have police . . . have something in place to overlook the sport, to keep the integrity, keep the honesty, protect the athletes and make sure the fans get the best product. This sport does not have it. It needs it, it needs it desperately.”

Usmanee felt that he took over in the second round and won “pretty much every round after that.”

“The only round I would give to him after that is the 10th and that’s because he head-butted me again,” said Usmanee. “Even then I was winning two minutes of the round. The last minute he was kind of doing a little better than me.”

Usmanee appreciated Atlas’ support and was overwhelmed by the number of well-wishers who left messages on his cell phone.

“Teddy loves me and I’ve made many millions of friends. Not hundreds or thousands, but millions,” said Usmanee. “In a negative way that’s a very big positive, that so many people look at me in positive way.

“I left my phone on roaming and it was going nuts. All my accounts were going crazy.”

Barthelemy, 26, improved to 18-0 with the unpopular decision, while Usmanee suffered his first loss after winning his first 20 bouts.

The setback doesn’t appear to have hurt him financially, however.

“The next day (Saturday) we got a huge offer, bigger than that fight,” he said. “It’s big from a business point of view, but as a person, as a boxer, having to take my first defeat was devastating, especially in that fashion. I’m not a sore loser, but he (Barthelemy) knows and I know that he didn’t win that fight. Me, him and God know that I won.”

Usmanee didn’t disclose when he’ll fight again. Regardless, it won’t be any time soon.

“I need to take some time off mentally and physically,” he said. “I’ll be coming back home to visit my family and reset my time.

“I’m disappointed, but I’m not down and I’m not done. This is only the beginning and many doors have opened. We’re going to keep busting through them to the world title and beyond.”



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