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Usmanee ready for his biggest fight, tonight

When he steps into the ring tonight Arash Usmanee knows he’ll be in for his biggest fight since starting his professional boxing career in 2009.

The 30-year-old from Red Deer puts his 20-0-0 pro record on the line against Cuban native Rances Barthelemy, now of Miami, who sports a 17-0-0 mark with 11 knockouts. The super featherweight contest will be the feature bout on the Friday Night Fights card at the Magic City Casino in Miami, Fla., and will be shown live on ESPN 2 and rebroadcast on TSN 2 Saturday.

“This is what I’ve been training for all my career, this is a big part of it (my career),” said Usmanee following a press conference in Miami. “I would say this will be my biggest challenge so far.”

The winner will be No. 2 in the WBC rankings.

“This is big in both of our careers,” added Usmanee. “A major step up as the winner is No. 2 in the world and possibly gets a title shot.”

Usmanee admits he’s especially excited.

“Why shouldn’t I be as this is what it’s all about and I want to grasp the opportunity.

Usmanee knows a little bit about his opponent as the two were sparring partners prior to turning pro.

“I kind of regret mentioning that as it was a long time ago and I expect a different guy in front of me and I’m sure he does as well. Four or five years in boxing is a long time and we change a lot.”

Barthelemy is four years younger and three inches taller than the five-foot-eight Usmanee.

“He’s a tall guy and I’m not used to that, but I’m very adaptable and after a couple of rounds I’ll be used to him,” he said. “But you never know what will happen. You go in expecting one thing and preparing for that and it may change. But I feel we’re prepared for him.”

The fact is Usmanee has been preparing for this fight since moving to Montreal, which was an important step in his career.

“If you follow my career you can see the difference since I moved to Montreal,” said Usmanee, who still calls Red Deer home.

“I do, but my boxing family is in Montreal. In fact they call me the Universal Kid as I have family all over the place.”

Usmanee was born in Afghanistan before moving to Canada when he was three.

Usmanee, who had a 142-20 record as an amateur and won the Canadian title four times, is also excited about the fight being showed in Canada on Saturday.

“I hope my fans and family and people in Red Deer enjoy it . . . I want everyone to enjoy it,” he said. “The fight being shown on ESPN is big. The next step is HBO. Once you’re fighting there it’s a major step up.

“This is the second biggest and a major step for both of us . . . neither one of us can let this opportunity pass.”



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