Red Deer boxer Arash Usmanee had only three days to prepare for the biggest fight of his professional career, but he took full advantage of the opportunity by knocking down Anthony Flores three times en route to an eight-round unanimous decision Friday night in Philadelphia.
The former five-time Canadian amateur champion received a phone call Tuesday afternoon and there was no hesitation in taking the fight.
“I was actually driving to training and on the way there, I got a phone call from my trainer Daniel (Trepanier) that I might be fighting Friday,” said Usmanee, 9-0 with 5 KOs. “We researched the guy and decided to take the fight. Daniel, my manager Douggy (Berneche) and Russ Amber and I, all agreed to go, and we were going there to win.”
In Flores, 9-2-1, he was facing a tall (five-foot-10) former two-time Pennsylvania Golden Glove champion in his hometown.
The first round started with the two boxers feeling each other out, but with 30 seconds left in the round Usmanee set the tone of the fight by catching Flores with a straight right that sent the American to the canvas. He followed that up seconds later with a second knockdown, stunning Flores with a right hand and then putting him down with a combination.
“I caught him with the right hand and he went down and he got up and tried surviving,” said Usmanee. “I caught him again mostly with a flurry, my right hand was very nice and I just kept timing it perfectly to land on Flores.”
After the first round, Flores went into survival mode.
“He was trying to fight from the outside, I mean really, really outside. That was his mission, even too far out for his own good,” said the undefeated Usmanee. “This guy didn’t want to engage at all. He would come in and throw maybe one or two punches and then move.”
Usmanee knocked Flores down for the third time in the fourth round, again stunning the Philadelphia boxer with a right hand, followed by a flurry.
After that, the fight evolved into Usmanee pursuing and Flores running. In the end, Usmanee was able to post the 79-70 twice, 78-71 unanimous-decision victory.
Going eight rounds and fighting a tall defence-oriented boxer was a good experience for the former amateur champion.
“I feel happy about the eight rounds,” said Usmanee. “This type of fighter, it is the style of fighter I should be fighting. It was a great opportunity for me to do a lot of things, get the rounds and learn a lot and get the experience and the ‘W’ as well.”
The Red Deer boxer also received some unexpected acknowledgement after the fight, which was part of a Golden Boy (Oscar Dela Hoya) Promotions card.
“Shane Mosley (the former five-time world champion) gave me the thumbs up after my fight,” said Usmanee.
Usmanee fights again on Oct. 29th in Montreal, and on Dec. 4 he has a verbal agreement to fight Calgary’s Steve Claggett, 10-0-1, hopefully for the Canadian lightweight championship.
Doug Rowe is a local freelance writer