World-ranked boxer Arash Usmanee was back in Red Deer on Monday, still feeling the effects of his 10-round unanimous decision victory over European super-featherweight champion Antonio Joao Bento Saturday night in Montreal.
“I’m still sore from the workout of the fight,” said Usmanee.
But whatever physical pain the former Red Deer Boxing Club star is feeling is secondary to the emotional stress he has been under since his mother, Bilqes, suffered a stroke in August. Bilqes is now in an extended care centre in Red Deer.
“She’s doing OK,” said Usmanee, who was visiting his mother Monday night and will be at her side until just after Christmas when he’ll head back to Montreal to prepare for his next bout Jan. 26 at the Bell Centre against a yet-unnamed opponent.
“The prognosis? Nobody can predict but God. But she’s OK, she just has to rehabilitate and start to walk on her own.”
His mother’s plight weighed heavily on Usmanee over the months, even as he trained for Saturday’s bout thousands of kilometres away.
“It’s been pretty tough, but I’ve talked to her (by telephone) every day. I’ve talked to my brothers every day,” said Usmanee. “You can’t just ignore it. You have to face the storm dead on.
“It’s worse to be living so far away but at other times it’s better because you’re not forced to see and feel the tension and the pain. But at the same time I want to feel that, I should feel that.”
Usmanee was a clear winner over his Portuguese opponent on Saturday, with the judges scoring the bout 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91 in his favour. But the 35-year-old Joao Bento proved to be a tough nut to crack and the bout was the liveliest of the undercard to a main event featuring rising middleweight prospect David Lemieux and eventual winner Joachin Alcine.
“I had the fight controlled the whole time but I had a live opponent, he came here to win,” said the 29-year-old Usmanee. “He tried his best to win and he kept trying to shift gears He tried his best and it just wasn’t enough.”
The pair traded bombs throughout the fight and while Usmanee landed the heavier shots, Joao Bento kept moving forward.
“My goodness, I must have thrown about 1,300 punches through the 10 rounds,” said Usmanee. “I’m guessing 40 per cent landed, so you come up with your own numbers as to what kind of punch this guy can take. If a fly lands on you 400 times it’s going to bug you enough.”
Usmanee, who improved to 16-0 as a pro, admitted the 35-year-old Joao Bento was his toughest opponent to date.
“On paper, or at least on one website I read, he was supposed to win, or at least have a chance of beating me,” said Usmanee. “He was supposed to give me a really tough fight, but the thing is I’ve been training too hard and too smart to make fights really difficult for me anymore.
“I have the ability to make my fights easier, it’s rather I do it or not.”
Usmanee was ranked 10th in the latest World Boxing Association rankings.
“When the next rankings come out we’re guessing that I’ll be at least seventh,” he said.