Array

Usmanee taking on top-ranked fighter

For most fighters, stepping into the ring on short notice against a No. 1 contender would be a daunting task. But for Arash Usmanee, whose will was forged as a child in war-torn Afghanistan, fighting Ray Beltran as part of the co-main event on the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley undercard this Saturday in Las Vegas is an opportunity that he could not turn down.

For most fighters, stepping into the ring on short notice against a No. 1 contender would be a daunting task.

But for Arash Usmanee, whose will was forged as a child in war-torn Afghanistan, fighting Ray Beltran as part of the co-main event on the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley undercard this Saturday in Las Vegas is an opportunity that he could not turn down.

“I am a warrior, and this is a fight,” explained Usmanee, 20-1-1 with 10 knockouts. “It was perfect! . . . I had to decide if I was in shape enough to go 12 hard rounds against a tough guy at a higher weight. I thought about it and talked to my trainer and I accepted the fight.”

Beltran, 28-6-1 with 17 KO’s, was originally scheduled to fight former WBO super featherweight champion Roman Martinez. Martinez got sick and pulled out at the last minute, leaving Top Rank scrambling for an opponent nine days before the big card.

Part of the Red Deer boxer’s motivation to take the fight was the fact that he has been working intensely with a new trainer, Gil Martinez, who replaced Eddie Mustafa Mohammed.

“He is awesome, he is amazing,” explained Usmanee. “He is honestly one of the best trainers, I have ever, I have ever seen in boxing . . . He makes you a better athlete, a better boxer, he teaches you to hit without getting hit, and to hit hard without getting hit at all. That is his method of teaching and it is very good and I really enjoy the training. We are ready for this fight.”

Usmanee is not worried about the 12-round distance, because even though he hasn’t had a camp to prepare for the bout, he has been working with Martinez four hours a day, six days a week, for eight weeks.

He is also not worried about moving up a weight division to take on the No. 1 ranked WBO lightweight in the world, because his last two opponents — Argenis Mendez and Rances Barthelemy — were exceptionally large super-featherweights. Usmanee is also the former WBC Continental Americas lightweight champion, almost shutting out Chris Howard — in Howard’s hometown of Atlanta — to win the title.

The former five-time Canadian amateur champion sees his bout for the WBO NABO lightweight championship — on HBO pay-per-view from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas — as a tremendous battle of wills.

“He is a Mexican, he is a tough guy. He moves forward, he hits hard and takes a good shot,” explained Usmanee. “When you look at my style, I am pretty much like a Mexican. It is going to be a clash, like a tsunami and a hurricane colliding.”

The similarity between the two fighters goes beyond just style, both are 32 years old, both five-foot-eight, and both experienced controversial draws against world champions in their last fights — Beltran with a draw against WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns last September, and Usmanee against WBA superfeatherweight champion Mendez, in August.

“They know very well what they are getting into,” said Usmanee. “They took their time deciding on whether or not to take the bout. They know, and they will come prepared. I think they know that I am a more difficult fight for them than Martinez.”

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Aaron Goodvin sings at Westerner Days

Aaron Goodvin performed at Westerner Days Wednesday.… Continue reading

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Central Alberta

There’s a severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Red Deer and the… Continue reading

WATCH: Sun shines on Red Deer’s Westerner Days parade

George Young has been a Westerner Days parade marshal for about 28… Continue reading

Central Alberta receives funding for regional emergency training

Alberta Municipal Affairs announces $160,000 for training on top of $40,000 previously received

WATCH: Global FMX at Westerner Days

There are three freestyle motocross shows a day at Westerner Park this week

Study links air pollution to drop in national park visitors

DENVER — Visitors appear to be steering clear of some U.S. national… Continue reading

Banff’s bathroom bears returned to the park after 15 months of rehab in Ontari

Three cubs found abandoned in a washroom along the Trans-Canada Highway in… Continue reading

Canada could get caught in cross-fire of U.S. uranium investigation

Canada could get caught in the crossfire after the U.S. Department of… Continue reading

Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled his pre-election cabinet, shuffling… Continue reading

Canada’s premiers meet Indigenous groups, although three major groups decline

BOUCTOUCHE, N.B. — Canada’s premiers are meeting with Indigenous organizations in New… Continue reading

An updated list of federal cabinet ministers following Wednesday’s shuffle

OTTAWA — An updated list of federal cabinet ministers following Wednesday’s shuffle,… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month