by Fox Doucette
Arash Usmanee (20-1, 10 KOs) joined the ranks of boxers robbed by corrupt idiot judges in a hometown fighter’s backyard, beating the snot out of Rances Barthelemy (18-0, 11 KOs) en route to a unanimous decision loss. Usmanee joins an illustrious cast of characters of guys who have been robbed in states with weak commissions on national television. Everyone who saw the fight except for the three blind mice at ringside knows who won. In the co-feature, Jonathan Gonzalez (16-0-1, 13 KOs) won an unimpressive majority decision over gatekeeper Derek Ennis (23-4-1, 13 KOs), who came in seven pounds over the weight limit and still managed to fight like he was dried out.
Rances Barthelemy can join the ranks of dumb fighters, the kinds of guys who have a boxing IQ the way the Denver Nuggets’ (and your columnist’s alma mater the University of Nevada’s) JaVale McGee has a basketball IQ. Barthelemy came out of the gate with a hellacious jab, using a three-inch height advantage and a power edge on the outside to make Usmanee look utterly overmatched. Indeed, had Barthelemy simply stuck with that gameplan, we’d be looking at a 120-108 score if the fight even went the distance. The Cuban landed a jab in the second round with such force that Usmanee looked like he’d been hit flush with a right cross, so decisively did his head snap back.
Barthelemy, however, spent the next ten rounds trying to walk down his opponent, in the process giving up his height and fighting at the one range where his opponent could beat him. Teddy Atlas pointed out in the first two rounds that there was no way Arash Usmanee was winning that fight on the outside, and truthfully any idiot could’ve come to the same conclusion. Once Barthelemy did Usmanee’s work for him and walked in, Usmanee went to town, landing counter shots, body shots, and even taking the fight to the enemy at times with aggression of his own.
Teddy Atlas had the fight 117-111; your columnist had it 116-112, both for Usmanee. Of course, Barthelemy was a Cuban fighter in Miami. Of course Usmanee got robbed. The official word was 116-112 (twice), 115-113, and we’ve got not only an FNF Fight of the Year candidate…but also a Robbery of the Year in the making.
There is a silver lining to all this. In the FNF season opener on January 7, 2011, Mauricio Herrera robbed Ruslan Provodnikov in an absolute travesty of a decision. What followed was the greatest of ESPN2’s first 14 Friday Night Fights seasons. Here’s hoping that lightning strikes twice and that the same start leads to the same finish. Considering that the just-signed Lamont Peterson-Kendall Holt fight for February 22 has the same kind of potential that Pawel Wolak-Delvin Rodriguez I had for action and entertainment value, maybe standing in an open field holding a five-iron aloft might be a recipe for electrocution.
The co-feature was neither as controversial nor as entertaining. Derek Ennis was unwilling or afraid to engage; Jonathan Gonzalez acted the part of a clown who looked like he had no idea how to avoid a punch. Shoe-shining and throwing punches the way an Olympic fighter tries to score points in the amateurs rather than how a professional looks to cause pain to his opponent led to ten snoozer rounds where Ennis was able to hang around and win a few rounds possibly by default. Long and the short of it, the official judges had it 95-95, 97-93 (twice), your columnist had it 97-93, and Teddy Atlas had it 97-94 (with a tied fifth round), all (except the draw) for Gonzalez, who took a majority decision win, looking in the process nothing like the hot prospect who managed a draw against Serhiy Dzinziruk on what was supposed to have been his worst day (when he came in overweight and fought poorly).
If we never see Gonzalez again, it’ll be too soon. Unless the Puerto Rican gets himself right and learns how not to clown around and act like a punk in the ring, his victory today stung as certainly as if he’d been knocked out. Right now his ceiling at 154 looks more Grady Brewer than Floyd Mayweather.
There was even a swing bout, and it provided the fireworks for the night. Hairon Socarras (6-0-1, 5 KOs) got a chance to show what he was made of in a scheduled television four-rounder (unlike most swing bouts, this one was all part of the plan as the opener). Socarras landed a honey of a right hand right on the chin of Josh Bowles (6-1, 1 KO), and the TV cameras showed as clear as day that the eyes may have been open, but there was no candlelight in the windows of the beaten fighter. The referee wisely waved off the contest; although Bowles put up an argument, the look was unmistakable. Letting the fight continue could not possibly have ended well for Bowles, who looked nothing like a 6-0 fighter (and a quick glance at his record lays bare how he got to 6-0. Here was a guy who couldn’t knock out a scarecrow if you gave him eight rounds.)
Friday Night Fights returns next week from Santa Fe, New Mexico, where John Molina (24-2, 19 KOs) looks to rebound from a brutal knockout loss against Antonio DeMarco last summer. He takes on Dannie Williams (22-2, 18 KOs), who has twice been exposed against fighters who are even on the B+ level (Hank Lundy last year and Eloy Perez in 2009.) In the co-feature, undefeated Brandon Gonzalez (16-0, 10 KOs) gets a showcase fight against decent but unspectacular middleweight journeyman Don Mouton (12-4-1, 10 KOs).
The Boxing Tribune will have a full preview and recap of next week’s action; FNF is back for season 15 and your columnist is here for his third go-round. Saddle up, lock and load, we’re off and running. As always, we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. He had that Provodnikov-Herrera fight 117-111 for the Russian two years ago. Fan mail, hate mail, and explanations from those blind and/or on-the-take judges in Miami can be sent to email@example.com.