Magic Trick: Barthelemy Decisions Usmanee

By Robert Ecksel on January 5, 2013
Magic Trick: Barthelemy Decisions Usmanee
We may question Teddy’s style, but not his conclusion or motives. (Photo by MisterRoly)

Arash Usmanee fought his heart out. Afghanis are born fighters. Ask the British. Ask the Russians. Ask Rances Barthelemy…

“Miami Beach is where neon goes to die.”—Lenny Bruce

ESPN’s inaugural fight card of 2013 ended on a note sour enough to remind us of the worst decisions of 2012.

The main event on Friday Night Fights, from Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida, was an IBF eliminator between undefeated junior lightweights Rances “Kid Blast” Barthelemy and Arash Usmanee.

Barthelemy, the 26-year-old Cuban who fights out of Miami, came into the bout with a 17-0 (11 KOs) record. Usmanee, 30, originally from Afghanistan but now fighting out of Montreal, Canada, was 20-0 with 10 KOs.

As ESPN main events go this was a good one. In addition to being undefeated, both fighters have an amateur pedigree; both fighters have history, having sparred several times; and Barthelemy and Usmanee have contrasting styles, which often makes for satisfying fights.

Barthelemy got off to a solid start. Wearing white trunks and fighting out of the blue corner, the lanky boxer-puncher used his superior skills and length and reach to keep Usmanee at the end of his jab. He also landed a couple right hands for good measure. In the first two rounds Usmanee looked old, slow, vulnerable and outclassed.

The smile on Barthelemy’s face said it all.

But in round three Usmanee, fighting out of the red corner in black trunks with multi-colored trim, started making the necessary adjustments and had begun to close the gap. Some effective body work was slowing Barthelemy down. He was also moving well. He didn’t do enough to win the round, and hadn’t yet taken control of the fight, but Barthelemy’s smile was beginning to fade ever so slightly.

The fourth could have gone either way. Both fighters had their moments, and Barthelemy may have had more of them. But what looked like it was going to be a rout looked like a rout no longer. Barthelemy drew first blood from a clash of heads. Usmanee, however, was imposing his will, helped in no small part by Barthelemy’s gradual abandonment of his jab.

Usmanee took control of the fight in rounds five and six. He had all but nullified Barthelemy’s advantages in size. He was controlling the action, getting off first, and was outlanding his opponent. The puncher was outslugging the boxer, and the puncher’s punches were full of bad intentions and having the desired effect.

The next two rounds were all Usmanee. He was laying a lot of leather on his vulnerable opponent. Barthelemy’s defense was nullified by Usmanee’s pressure and beautifully timed punches. He also looked to be hurt on a few occasions.

Kid Blast woke from his trance in round nine. He managed to at least make a fight of it. But he was still fighting his opponent’s fight. He was squaring himself up, offering a bigger target than was necessary or wise, and Usmanee made the most of it.

Another clash of heads in the 10th drew more blood from Usmanee. But someone who survived one of the endless wars in Afghanistan wasn’t about to let a little blood curtail his objectives. Afghanis are born fighters. Ask the British. Ask the Russians. Ask Rances Barthelemy.

Barthelemy came on in the 11th. The clash of heads may have slightly dazed Usmanee. He walked into some shots he avoided in earlier rounds. It looked as though Barthelemy was making his move and was going to pocket the championship rounds and the fight.

But then the bell rang for the 12th and final round. Both fighters let it all hang out, but it looked like Barthelemy had about shot his wad. He was eating rights and lefts. He was falling into punches when he wasn’t retreating to the ropes. He landed a hard right in the final 30 seconds, but his legs were gone, he looked out on his feet.

CompuBox indicated that Barthelemy out-jabbed Usmanee 49 of 300 to 24 of 323. In the power punch department, Usmanee had the upper hand, landing 258 of 765 to 189 of 254 for Barthelemy. The punch totals were Usmanee 282 of 1088 for 26% and Barthelemy 238 of 824 for 29%.

While numbers don’t tell the whole story, ignoring imponderables like effective punching, it was an excellent fight which was about to be marred by less than excellent scoring.

It was a unanimous decision. Judge Ricardo Bays had it 115-113. Judges Valerie Dorsett and Richard Green both scored it 116-112, all for Barthelemy.

As soon as the scorecards were announced, to the disbelief of almost everyone, an outraged Teddy Atlas, true to form, made his displeasure known.

“It may be a new year, but it’s the same old bad judging,” he said. “It’s either incompetence or it’s corruption. That is disgraceful. Happy New Year! The same old disgraceful judging. Happy New Year. When are we going to have a National Commission? When are we going to have what other sports have? Dignity. Integrity. Honesty. Policing in this sport for these game warriors that put themselves on the line. When is the federal government going to step up and take it away from this corrupt system we have in boxing?”

One may be uncomfortable with Teddy’s style, but it’s impossible to second-guess his conclusions. The decision was disgraceful. But the feds won’t dirty their hands with boxing. They don’t care. And the congressmen who do care, or say they care, are too impotent or distracted to do anything about it. Atlas knows this. He’s also wary of the State’s motives. But he, like many of us, has grown weary of injustice after injustice that has made our sport a laughingstock.

Arash Usmanee deserves better.

And so does boxing.

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  1. Bodyshots 10:48am, 01/10/2013

    ERNESTO, no research required. i am aware of Napoles and Gavilan but they are not products of the Cuban amateur programs that enable them to match incredibly experienced men with relatively inexperienced boys. in fact, Napoles (nicknamed “Mantequilla” by his Mexican fans) is the last great fighter to emerge from Cuba before Castro banned pro sports and the only other HOFr I can recall him facing (and losing too) is Monzon. Gavilan was great but Robinson was greater. besides, “Kid” was the victim/beneficiary of some shady decisions back in the day. you can research the details since I believe it is You who is talking out of your ass.

  2. raxman 02:33pm, 01/08/2013

    Bodyshots - the thing is the Jackals’ 11 fight resume is more credible than most fighters who carry 30 fights. he wants to fight the best - but the best sure as hell don’t want him.
    unfortunately amateur boxing in the first decade of the 21st century just wasn’t conducive to pro boxing.  the 3 of 5 judge scoring system meant a number of modifications that fighters needed to make to win. no point fighting on the inside coz the judges can’t see. no point throwing more than 2 or 3 punch combos coz they scoring machine can’t register fast enough for more than 3 punches to score. amir khan is the classic example - can’t fight inside to save himself, (in fact prior to the Peterson fight all he could do was push his opponent away) and can’t throw more than 3 punches in a combo without being picked off on the counter. of course some of the great ones: gamboa,  andre ward, golovkin, etc, were so good they could fight pro style and win or modify their style to suit the amo system and change it back when the time came for their professional calling.

    as for gamboa vs rios - that fight should never have been booked rios is 140 pounder and gambo was still fighting at 126 - once gamboa and broner settle at 135/140 - maybe taking donaire up there too - and if garcia isn’t exposed (like i think he will be) we could end up with this generations fab four - gamboa, rios, broner and garcia - it actually feels pretty good to say those 4 names together.

  3. Bodyshots 10:56pm, 01/07/2013

    RAX, i’m not fooling myself i’m just making sure that i’m not being fooled by any of the residual Cold War-hype that still surrounds Cuban fighters. i’m the first to say it’s unwise to underestimate an Olympic medalist but i can also name plenty of gold-medal Olympians who went bust as pros. consequently, a great amateur career can be an indicator of pro success but it is far from a guarantee. in fact, you’ve already named two highly-touted Cubans that i’ve already forgotten. the highly-touted Lara was recently exposed as a work-in-progress at best but i’ve had serious doubts regarding his pro-potential when he failed to display breakaway talent v. a rusty Molina. Barthelemy was also unable to display breakaway talent v. a set-up and needed “official” (corrupt?) scorecards to notch that “win”. Gamboa is a true talent but he’s also cocky, reckless, arrogant, dirty, and vulnerable to being chin-checked. IMO, Broner is already out of his league and Gamboa better think long and hard before pursuing Broner to welter. he’ll be KTFO. i will concede that i also have a personal gripe with Gamboa for bailing-out of the Rios AFter i had already purchased the tix. Alvarado and Herrera salvaged that card and a dehydrated Rios was spared an embarrassing loss thanks to Gamboa’s sense of entitlement NOT professional mission. anyway, i’m very slow to be impressed by anything less than actual ring-performances v. the best competition, which is all Rigondeaux has to actually do before i can vouch for his “elite” status and ring-credibility. meanwhile, 11-0 is just not going to cut-it in my book.

  4. raxman 05:14pm, 01/07/2013

    bodyshots - rigondeaux is a gun. don’t fool yourself. i’ll give you the other clowns - this guy barthelemy wasn’t even the best cuban in his weight class - and solis is slob; but gamboa and the jackal are real. especially rigondeaux. the fact he is only 11 fights in and being touted as a challenger to donaire and mares (the latter whom he absolutely schooled in the amateurs) is neither premature nor undeserving. this is a super star amateur (nearly 400 wins and a 12 losses) who has turned pro the right way. a handful of find your feet pro fights and then straight into top 10 opponents.
    as for the cuban robinson, ali etc - its hard to say. teofilo stevenson could’ve been it. you watch his fights the man was a beast. same with felix savon who also won 3 olympic golds and 6 worlds. you see the best of the cubans are happy living large courtesy of the state, so outside of the amateurs we dont see them - until Rigondeaux.

  5. THE THRESHER 07:28am, 01/07/2013

    Just another regular rip-off.  For those inclined to do so (courtesy of Johnny Walker of Boxing Insider), let the Executive Director of the Florida State Boxing Commission, Cynthia Hefren, know what you thought about Friday’s contest: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  6. Ernesto 12:16pm, 01/06/2013

    Farid they actually do very little because their pay check is not as big as you think; but they don’t think about the harm that they are doing to the sport.

  7. Ernesto 12:14pm, 01/06/2013

    Bodyshots I know that you never knew about “Mantequilla Napoles < Luis Manuel, Urtiminio Ramos, and Kid Gavilan you can buy a book and read about them or go to the internet and learn some about them .
    When you don’t know about a topic the best is: keep your mouth close

  8. Bodyshots 11:27am, 01/06/2013

    another great Cuban amateur busts as a pro fighter. how many more times will this cycle need to repeat itself before “experts” and fanboys alike discard the stale Cold War logic when it comes to Cuban fighters, e.g., Only 11 pro-fights and Rigondeaux is lumped among Donaire and Mares? Huh?!? bottomline, there’s never been a Cuban Robinson, Ali, Leonard, Tyson, or even DLH. i haven’t listened to this Cuban mystique crap since 1990. about the same time i dumped Ring Ragazine and their blatant east-coast bias. when it comes to evaluating fighters, experienced fight-fans and the fights themselves are the ONLY accurate measure.

  9. Bea Long 08:06am, 01/06/2013

    I am full on with Teddy. It is just plain corruption, to be stupidity one would only have one judge. I was so mad, I had it recorded, watched it again and was still mad. Fire the whole damn bunch and start over. If this does not provoke a commission this time I give up. Boxing is just getting carried again on NBC and CBS and dumb s^*& like this happens. I want to keep the Sweet Science alive and well and honest for once!!! TEDDY ATLAS for president of the thing. let’s petition or picket or something!

  10. Ernesto 08:39pm, 01/05/2013

    I am 100% with Teddy Atlas. I am Cuban, but Barthelemy was badly beaten. Maybe he is a good boxer, but he has no brain.
    Judges played an ugly role. I don’t know of there is an official protest, but they deserve to be punished (out forever from boxing).

  11. Farid 03:27pm, 01/05/2013

    Unbelievable, what a joke. This sport deserves better. How much these 2 judges made on this transaction ?

  12. the thresher 12:33pm, 01/05/2013

    Excellent article, Robert.

  13. the thresher 12:30pm, 01/05/2013

    Arash Usmanee Wins Fight, Loses Decision to Rances Barthelemy

  14. Mike Schmidt 11:34am, 01/05/2013

    Arash is a great young man with no promoter. If Teddy really wants to bring some justice—why not start with his employer—BRING BACK ARASH FOR ANOTHER FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHT MAIN EVENT—THERE IS SOME JUSTICE of some measure—and all the respect in the world to Teddy.

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