By Marc Livitz: The sweet science is sadly not completely immune from leaving its fair share of black eyes upon more than just its combatants. 2013 may have come and gone like a gust of wind, yet the boxing world experienced a number of inexplicable decisions that threw more than one collective set of arms skyward. Such was the case eleven months ago in Miami, Florida. ESPN visited the Magic City Casino on January 4 for their first televised card of 2013 and before the champagne corks could even dry, the scores turned in after round twelve reminded some why the big fight crowds only come out a few times per year.
The IBF super featherweight title eliminator bout staged between Cuban national Rances Barthelemy and Afghani cum Canadian Arash Usmanee ended in a deplorable decision. Each fighter was previously unbeaten and this was no way to kick off the 15th season of "Friday Night Fights".
The 30 year old Usmanee entered the ring with an undefeated mark of 20 wins (10 KO’s), while the 23 year old Barthelemy boasted a record of 17 wins (11 KO’s). The opening round was just short of a showcase for Rances. The unbeaten Cuban used his three inch height advantage to his benefit and popped away at Arash from afar. His extensive amateur experience and background, as is seemingly customary for the lot of fighters from Cuba was on display. That was the story of round one. Usmanee did what he could to close the distance and pummel away on the inside in the second. He continued to pound Barthelemy close in during the third and take advantage of the Cuban’s tendency to lean forward.
The fourth saw action from both sides, yet it was Usmanee who was turning the tide. He was on the hunt for the head of his Cuban foe, although a clash of heads towards the end of the round threatened his rhythm. This was not to be the case as he turned the tables on Rances in the fifth. He was actually making Barthelemy walk into his shots and fight close in despite his disadvantages in both height as well as reach. The Cuban’s jab had disappeared. Usmanee used his elbows and shoulders to keep the distance in round six. Rances didn’t appear to be one who enjoyed fighting on the inside, yet he still continued to throw errant shots and no longer rely on spacing.
As before, Barthelemy abandoned his height advantage and Usmanee raked it in. He was physically wearing down his taller opponent as the bout entered its second half. Arash fired away at a squared-up Rances in the eighth. It was anyone’s guess as to why the lanky Cuban fighter changed his strategy so much to his detriment. He fell victim to multiple combinations from his Afghanistan competitor. Still, he tried to pushed the action in the ninth. He found his jab for just a bit before he resorted to his previous pattern and fell prey to Usmanee’s onslaught. Somehow, someway he found the nerve to raise his hand in a victory prose as round nine closed.
A second clash of heads occurred, this time midway through round ten. Barthelemy managed to land a solid left hook close in, after which he attempted to showboat and try to goad Usmanee into a war of words. Arash complied just a bit as blood streamed down the bridge of his nose. Rances connected with a lead right to begin round eleven, after which his central Asian antagonist replied with a flurry of unanswered head and body shots. Barthelemy tried to elude Usmanee with dips and dodges. Arash still found him and his efforts were made all the more easy as Rances chose to drop his hands to his sides. On to the twelfth and final round went the two men and ringside observers at this point agreed that the bout was Arash Usmanee’s contest to lose.
The opening minute of the closing round saw Usmanee throw shot after unanswered shot straight to the head of Rances Barthelemy. The Cuban standout was inclined to lean forward and try to clinch. He accepted punch after punch as the round inched towards a close. The exchanges between the two men were so unfairly balanced towards Usmanee. The crowd at the Magic City Casino showed its appreciation for the evening’s contest as the final bell sounded.
Scoring the bout was not a very difficult task. By most accounts, Arash Usmanee won by a 9-3 margin. An 8-4 tally would have been generous. Arash threw almost 1,100 punches to Rances’s 824 and he outlanded him by almost fifty shots. For whatever reason, the spirit of giving carried over into the new year for the three ringside judges who unfathomably saw Rances Barthelemy as the winner. The judges scorecards read as follows: 115-113 and the other two at 116-112. Arash Usmanee quickly left the ring in utter disgust and headed towards the dressing room. Incompetence, corruption and outright disgraceful were among the words exchanged in reaction to the decision. SecondsOut officially recognizes Rances Barthelemy’s gift decision over Arash Usmanee as the worst decision of the year for 2013.
December 26, 2013