Arash Usmanee Wins Big in Defeat
Lou Eisen / January 11, 2013 - 2:43pm
Growing up in Afghanistan, Canadian boxer Arash Usmanee suffered through worse traumatic life events than losing a prizefight. Given the amount of tragedy he has suffered in his young life so far, you would think that losing a boxing match, even by nefarious means, would not stick in his craw for very long. Well, you be wrong. In fact, you'd be as wrong and off the mark as the judges who scored his fight were in his fight this past Friday, Jan. 4, in Miami, Fla.
Still, a robbery is a robbery whether or not the crime is committed with the aid of a gun, or with a pencil and paper. Usmanee, can be forgiven if he felt once again like a victim after hearing the incredulous decision that was announced in favor of his opponent last Friday in Miami, Florida, Cuban Rances Barthelemy. Even Barthelemy was shocked that he got the decision.
As terrible decisions are concerned, this was one of the worst judged fights boxing has seen recently. Sadly, such overtly corrupt decisions by judges have become an all too familiar occurrence in boxing today. In fact, they are commonplace. Indeed, fight fans are more surprised these days in boxing when judges actually score a fight honestly and above board. Corrupt scoring is so endemic in boxing at this point that fans are not surprised when a fighter wins a fight convincingly only to be robbed of the decision. Boxing fans expect fighters to be ripped off as a matter of course.
Last Friday, January 4, at the Magic Casino in Miami, Florida, on ESPN's very first ESPN Friday Night Fights telecast of 2013, Canadian Usmanee gave a thorough, one-sided pummeling to highly touted Cuban ex-pat Rances "Kid Blast" Barthelemy in what many viewers considered to be a slam dunk unanimous decision for Usmanee. It is ironic to consider that the location of the fight was the Magic Casino, as the awful decision in favor of Barthelemy involved some very obvious sleight of hand chicanery that left Team Usmanee, boxing fans and the broadcast team upset and outraged how, yet again, another deliberate theft by corrupt boxing judges was perpetuated in front of paying customers and fans watching on TV.
The fight was action packed with very few clinches throughout the bout. This was a great fight from beginning to end and all the way through. Usmanee took the fight to his taller Cuban foe and worked Barthelemy's body relentlessly. Usmanee raked the Florida-based fighter with a barrage of savage, thudding body shots. Usmanee is well schooled on how to take a technical boxer out of his rhythm and off of his game. Time and again, Usmanee used his full leverage to pound Barthelemy with a vicious left hook to the liver.
Barthelemy had more speed than Usmanee and he showed it in the first round by snapping the Canadian's head back with whip-like jabs. From the second round to the very end, it was all Usmanee. His blistering body attack started to pay dividends early, as Barthelemy abandoned his plan to box from a distance in favor of slugging it out with the stronger Usmanee. Throughout the match, Usmanee scored the harder and more accurate shots. He defined the phrase, "effective aggressiveness," by constantly coming forward, working the body and then bringing his firepower upstairs to land clean, jolting hooks and uppercuts on Barthelemy.
It was Usmanee's dominance in the ring that made the decision so shocking to hear. This was more than a lousy decision. It was criminal. The hometown fans in attendance and supposedly rooting for Barthelemy, let their disgust at the decision be known as they booed long, loud and lustily after Barthelemy was inexplicably awarded the verdict in a fight he clearly did not win.
This was a torrid, fast-paced match that had the fans cheering wildly from the first round to the final bell in round twelve. Broadcasters Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore gave Usmanee at least nine of the twelve rounds. Almost all of the boxing scribes in attendance agreed with that assessment. In other words, just about everyone there viewed the match as a one-sided victory for the Canadian fighter who entered the squared circle with a perfect record of 20-0.
All those present and watching on TV agreed that Usmanee's record should now be 21-0. That is, everyone except the three crime mice that were hired by the IBF and somehow deliberately scored the fight in favor of their hometown fighter Barthelemy. All fighters are asking for from the sport of boxing is fairness in how they are treated and in how their fights are actually scored.
The judges in this case seemed to have scored the fight completely without regard to what actually occurred in the ring. When fans watch a great fight, they need the correct decision that should go along with it for an emotional release. To cheat the fighter and the fans puts a sour taste in everyone's mouth and drives casual fans away from the sport.
By incorrectly awarding the decision to Barthelemy, the judges turned a great evening of boxing into a bitter memory. Many of the fans in attendance will simply not come back. It is interesting to note that the co-promoter of the bout was Warriors Boxing, a promotional outfit out of Florida run by attorney Leon Margules and the Florida-based Seminole tribe. It was Margules who helped create Team Freedom in 1996 to manage and promote exiled Cuban boxers in the United States. Margules both manages and promotes Barthelemy. Managing and promoting the same boxer is supposedly not allowed in professional boxing because it is a clear conflict of interest yet Margules has found a way to circumvent the rules, as the judges did after the fight.
Sadly now, for the sake of boxing and its tenuous hold on casual fans, such conflicts of interest and horrible fight decisions are now part of the sport. Corruption of boxing officials is in no way a new problem for the sport of pugilism. The problem of corrupt judging goes back to the 1860's in professional boxing.
There is really nothing Usmanee can do to correct the situation. The IBF said they had no problem with how their judges scored the fight and Margules said that perhaps, "somewhere way down the road, we may be able to look at giving Usmanee a rematch." In other words, don't hold your breath and wait for justice to come, especially in boxing.
The bad news for Barthelemy is that Usmanee just provided the blueprint on how to shut him down and beat him. After watching the beating Usmanee gave Barthelemy, no one in his weight class will be afraid to fight the Cuban super featherweight again.
The fact that the judges who essentially gave Barthelemy a gift won't even be called onto the red carpet underlines one of the most basic and fundamental problems in boxing today. Judges are never held accountable for how they score fights. Ever! In fact, they aren't even judged or graded on their respective abilities (or inabilities in this case) to score a match properly and fairly. Every judge working in professional boxing today should have every fight they score graded for accuracy, fairness, neutrality and their awareness of the rules of the jurisdiction in which the fight is scored.
In every major professional sport around the world, except for boxing, all officials involved in the judging, grading and scoring of athletic performances are constantly tested and graded on their performances. Their eyesight is checked at least yearly and in some instances, more so. Many sports, such as Baseball, Football, and Basketball, even go so far as to vet the personal and professional histories of their in-game officials to ensure that there is no possibility of bias occurring on the field of play that would favor a particular athlete or team. In fact, other professional sports don't even tolerate the appearance of bias or conflict.
Only boxing allows its officials, referees and judges, to operate on their own with no universal operating standards for scoring fights, or mandatory review periods for adjudicating their performances or even regular grading and testing of their abilities. As far as looking into any possible bias that may exist between a referee or judge and a fighter, well, the answer is almost laughable.
The people in charge of the sanctioning bodies are corrupt. They do not want anyone looking into their own personal histories let alone that of any of their officials. This is why boxing so desperately needs an independent commissioner with complete authority to oversee professional pugilism. It's at least worth a try.
Regardless of the scorecards of corrupt judges, or the undue influence of certain promoters over specific sanctioning bodies, it is the fighters and the fans that know, who always know, who won a fight. The fans and Rances Barthelemy know that Arash Usmanee was the much better man last Friday, January 4, on ESPN's Friday Night Fights. They don't need three honesty-challenged judges to tell them otherwise.