Another world title shot might be just around the corner for Red Deer boxer Arash Usmanee.
Usmanee battled IBF junior featherweight champion Argenis Mendez to a draw Aug. 23 in Verona, N.Y. Mendez is now rumoured to be moving up to another weight class, which could leave Rances Barthelemy and Usmanee as the Nos. 1 and 2 contenders for a vacant title.
Barthelemy handed Usmanee his only loss last January in Miami, posting a controversial unanimous decision that enraged the likes of colourful fight commentator Teddy Atlas.
Now the two could meet in a rematch with a belt on the line.
“I might end up fighting him (Barthelemy) for the title, and that would be very good,” Usmanee said last Friday, while attending the Havoc Fighting Championship at the Westerner Prairie Pavilion.
“He can’t do much more that he did the last time we fought and I know I can do much more. I already feel like I beat him. This would be an amazing fight and a big fight. It could be (televised) on HBO because everybody already knows about us and the controversial decision.
“It would be an intriguing fight for all the boxing community. It would turn some heads and bring a lot of people to watch. It would be a big fight for a title.”
While earning a draw against a world champion the calibre of Mendez is a fine accomplishment, the decision didn’t sit well with Usmanee, who owns a pro record of 20-1-1.
“You always want to win. Every athlete at the highest level is never satisfied with a loss or a draw,” he insisted.
The earlier loss to Barthelemy, he admitted, was actually a blessing in disguise. Many observers felt Usmanee deserved a better fate with his aggressive style, and the Mendez camp was obviously impressed with the 31-year-old former Red Deer Boxing Club member, hence the title fight last month.
“My fight against Barthelemy was a loss I didn’t like, but it opened many doors for me,” said Usmanee.
“It gave me an opportunity for this last fight, and this last fight is going to open even more doors for me.
“I’m not satisfied with the draw, but I’m happy to be where I’m at right now.”
Usmanee, a former Canadian amateur champion, turned professional in 2008. He soon moved to Montreal and has since relocated to Las Vegas.
He’s convinced that his moment of glory is not far off. That he’s this close is a testament to his commitment, mindset and rigid training.
“I mean, God willing, we can never know in boxing . . . you could be so close and then get nothing out of it. You could be 14-15 years surviving without much income, and then get so close and get nothing,” he said. “Or you can make it and get millions in your bank, with titles.
“Right now my dream is to get a title and then we’ll think about everything else. That’s my goal — I want to get a world title.”
Usmanee doesn’t know if a bout with Barthelemy is next on his list.
“I’m just going day to day, but my manager and my promoters are going crazy right now,” he said. “Their phone is going off the hook and all the champions want to fight me . . . all the title-holders at my weight, they want to fight me, and the best guy at 130 (pounds) is the guy I just fought and got a draw against.
“The rest, in my opinion, is going to be hard, but probably not as hard.”