By Robert Coster at ringside
Photo: Marco Perez/Mpsportimages.com
Against game and gritty Arash Usmanee, Miami’s local favorite Rances Barthelemy was taken to the wire Friday night and displayed both the strengths and weaknesses in his arsenal. The young junior lightweight clearly dominated the early rounds, using his height, excellent speed and an awkward left hook that repeatedly snapped back the head of his opponent. Many onlookers believed that Rances was on his way to a quick, impressive stoppage. This was not to be, however, as the sturdy Usmanee learned how to duck under Barthelemy’s hooks and jabs and gradually cutting the distance between the two.
As the Afghan-born Canadian started going to the body, Barthelemy’s good footwork, skills and poise started to unravel. He allowed himself to be lured in a trench warfare on the ropes, nullifying his reach and height advantage.
Usmanee dominated many of the middle rounds. In rounds ten and eleven, Rances had to dig deep to fight back with great bravery, scoring well whenever he fought from a distance. Round twelve, however, was a nightmare for the young Cuban as he was wobbled by Usmanee and had to hold on to finish the fight on his feet.
The scoring of judges Rick Bays 115-113, Rich Green 116-112, Valerie Dorsett 116-112 drew the ire of most in the press and social media.
Win or lose, stamina and conditioning are certainly aspects Barthelemy’s handlers will have to work on. As one onlooker aptly said, “Rances is certainly talented but…”
In regard to Usmanee, he can return to Canada with his head held high. He displayed grit, courage, a very sturdy chin and his gallant effort increases rather than diminishes his stock with the American public and American television.
Among those at ringside was former world champion Glen Johnson, who perhaps better than anyone understands what Usmanee is experiencing about now.