By Bob Caico at ringside
Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
IBF junior lightweight champion Argenis “La Tormenta” Mendez (21-2-1, 11 KOs) retained his title with a twelve round draw against Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10 KOs) on Friday night at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y., in the debut of Mike Tyson as a professional boxing promoter. Usmanee pressed the action against the sharp-shooting Mendez, but mostly got the worst of it. Scores were 115-113 Usmanee, 114-114, 114-114.
Mendez outboxed Usmanee over the first few rounds using his quickness and sharp punching over the aggressive Afghanistan native. In the fourth round Usmanee finally was able to corner Mendez and land effectively. The champion went to the body in the next round and scored numerous shots to the midsection as the challenger was missing wildly to the head. The sixth round was the best for Mendez as his superior defense continued to block and evade the aggressor all the while landing quick combinations.
The bout continued a pattern over the next several rounds as Usmanee continued to throw more punches but Mendez landing the sharper and cleaner punches. The two fighters fought the last round as if they both thought they would need it to win the match and they slugged toe to toe until the final bell when it appeared Usamanee was hurt. When the first score for Usmanee was read his corner seemed surprised as well the fans in attendance. The judges had to decide if the fighter who was the constant aggressor or the boxer who landed the more telling blows was the winner.
“It was a very close fight,” Usmanee said. “It depends on how you judge a fight. I was the aggressor. It could have gone either way.” Mendez felt his hand should have been the only one raised, “I’m really disappointed in the decision, I’m the champion and I thought I won.” Marrero’s promoter Mike Tyson was diplomatic on the result, “Whatever you think of the decision it was a great fight for the fans and also for boxing.”
In a good action co-main event for the WBA interim featherweight title, Jesus Cuellar (23-1, 18 KOs) won a twelve round unanimous decision over previously undefeated featherweight Claudio “The Matrix” Marrero (14-1, 11 KOs). The fighters went at it toe-to-toe from the get-go. Cuellar of Argentina was the aggressor and he was credited with a knockdown in round six as Marrero fell through the ropes. Round seven may be a qualifier for the round of the year because of the back and forth action where both fighters were stunned on more than one occasion. The rugged Cueller had a big ninth round when he cornered the faster foe and was chasing him around the ring at the bell. Marrero won the next two rounds by out boxing Cueller by using his jab and not trading with him. The last round was a battle from start to finish and both fighters thought they were the victors. Scores were 115-112, 114-113, 116-111.
Ed “The Lion” Paredes of Hollywood, Florida scored a unanimous 10-round decision over Noe “Platanito” Bolanos of Mexico. The two battled at close quarters but the sharper punches were landed by the WBA and WBC #3 rated welterweight Paredes. The Lion raises his record to 34-3-1, 22 KOs while Bolanos slides to 24-9-1, 16 KOs with identical 99-91 scores by all three judges.
Heavyweight Dorsett Barnwell of Newport News, VA had an easy go against 42-year old Marlon Hayes of Newark, NJ. Barnwell was finally able to put Hayes away at 2:14 of round three in a scheduled six. The undefeated Barnwell now has five knockouts to go with his ten wins while Hayes drops 23-13.
#14 WBA Jr. lightweight Alexei “The Mexican-Cuban” Collado (17-0, 15 KOs) stopped late sub Guillermo Sanchez (13-10-1, 5 KOs) in the fifth round of a scheduled ten. Collado’s opponent originally was to be Hugo Partida of Mexico and Sanchez took the fight on less than 48 hours notice. Collado out hustled Sanchez in each round and forced the referee to call a halt at 2:25 of the fifth when he trapped Sanchez on the ropes.
Undefeated middleweight Antoine Douglass of Burke, VA made easy work of over weight and over matched Edgar Perez of Chicago. Douglass won by shutout unanimous decision after six copycat rounds. Douglass improves to 9-0 while Perez drops below 500 at 5-6.
Iron Mike Productions had a quality debut and both Tyson and his partner Garry Jonas plan on continuing putting on competitive shows like this one. “Our mantra is to put our guys in with tough fighters. We didn’t want to put Marrero in with guys that are not worthy. His opponent was tough and aggressive and he wasn’t prepared for it, but he will learn,” said Jonas. Tyson has a renewed love for the sport and he plans on more shows not only in the States but worldwide. “I’m going to take fights where people want it, I’m been contacted by promoters in Asia, Australia and even Dubai wants me to bring fighters there as well.”