By Doug Rowe
Red Deer boxers Arash Usmanee and Cam O’Connell hope that history repeats itself at the KO Boxing Promotions fight card in Edmonton this Friday. The last time the two fought on the same card was as amateurs, at the 2006 Ringside World Championships in Kansas City, where both athletes scored impressive victories to win the coveted championship belts. “Arash is my mentor and my role model,” said O’Connell a former two-time Canadian National Amateur Champion. “At Ringside we both had outstanding matches, in rings right beside each other. To have my big brother there in camp for this fight, on the same card, in my corner, in the dressing room, will help immensely.”
Usmanee shares the same sentiments and is proud to share the ring with O’Connell. “Last time we fought together on the same show we won the tournament,” said the former five-time Canadian National Champion. “Cam is my little brother. Two boxers from the same club, in the main event and semi-main event of a professional card in Alberta, has to be a record.”
Usmanee’s last three fights, have been against some of the top ranked boxers in the world. He lost a controversial decision to Rances Barthelemy, drew with IBF Superfeatherweight Champion Argenis Mendez, and lost to number one lightweight contender Raymundo Beltran by decision, after moving up a division and taking the fight on only eight days notice.
Friday’s bout against California’s Juan Ruiz, 23-12, 7 KO’s, is a chance for Usmanee, 20-2-1, 10 KO’s to get back in the win column and build momentum towards another world title shot.
“He (Ruiz) is a tough durable guy,” said Usmanee, 32. “He has never been knocked out and has taken a lot of top guys, undefeated guys, the distance including Gary Russell Jr. I want a knockout. I need a knockout. This fight will come down to what I bring to the table, not what he has.”
For O’Connoll, 6-0-1 5 KO’s, Friday’s eight round fight is an opportunity to make a significant statement in professional boxing and win his first title, the Junior North American Lightweight Boxing Federation Championship.
The former Junior Olympic bronze medallist will be fighting Jamie Ocequeda, 8-0-1, 5 KO’s out of California, and feels he is more than ready to take on the undefeated fighter.
“This fight is my chance to show myself what I can do,” said O’Connell, 25. “I want titles. I want to be at the top. If I win this title I don’t think there is anything that can stop me.”
“He (Ocequeda) is head down, heavier hitter, he tries to be slick but his slickness ends up in a brawl. He will slip punches and then he will just bang it out with somebody. First round I am going to pick him apart and feel him out and see what I can do with him . . . I don’t think he will do well with our elevation. I want to wear him down and then I want the knockout.”
Tickets for the event are available through Ticketmaster