Usmanee robbed against Barthelemy
More dubious scoring serves up unanimous decision to hometown fighter
A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Friday at Miami
Scores: 116-112 (twice), 115-113
Records: Barthelemy (18-0, 11 KOs); Usmanee (20-1, 10 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: There's some good news here and some bad news. The good news? ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" returned and we got an excellent fight between two interesting, unbeaten boxers as the curtain rose on the series' 15th season. The bad, however, was an awful decision in favor of Barthelemy; he made it a good fight but no way, no how deserved the decision from judges Ric Bays, Rich Green, Valerie Dorsett, who gave us a robbery of the year candidate in the first national TV fight of 2013. The scoring really marred an otherwise terrific fight. ESPN2 analyst Teddy Atlas' postfight meltdown assailing the judges and their scoring -- "It's either incompetence or it's corruption! That is disgraceful! Happy New Year to you same old disgraceful judges!" -- was one for the all-time meltdown archive. Really a shame it had to end that way, but at least it was a good fight. And Barthelemy, 26, locked up the No. 2 position in one of the sanctioning organizations to move a step closer to a mandatory title shot.
Usmanee, 30, was getting his first national television exposure. He has an interesting background and an appealing fighting style. As a 6-year-old in his native Afghanistan, Usmanee lost his father, who was killed by a Russian rocket during the war with the Soviets. In 1994, when he was 12, he moved with his family to Alberta, Canada, and later settled in Montreal as he pursed a boxing career. Barthelemy was a standout amateur in Cuba and now lives in Miami, where he received the benefit of the hometown decision. Usmanee and Barthelemy were somewhat familiar with each other because they sparred together a few years ago.
Barthelemy got off to a good start, especially in the first two rounds. He was quicker than Usmanee and displayed a very solid left jab. But Usmanee made critical adjustments and came on strong. He attacked Barthelemy to the body and turned the bout into more of a toe-to-toe fight. Barthelemy couldn't help but be dragged into it. There were a lot of exciting exchanges. By the middle rounds, Usmanee seemed to be dominating the action and on his way to the victory. If there was any doubt who was ahead, Usmanee appeared to lock up the fight in the 12th round with a dominant closing stretch. He repeatedly rocked a fading Barthelemy, who was hanging on for dear life and on the run during the round. Barthelemy was clearly out of gas and was lucky to stay on his feet. The CompuBox punch statistics favored Usmanee, who was credited with landing 288 of 1,088 punches (26 percent), while Barthelemy landed 238 of 824 (29 percent). Of Usmanee's total, he landed 258 power shots to Barthelemy's 189.
Then came the scorecards, which sounded as if they would be for Usmanee -- until, stunningly, Barthelemy was declared the winner. Based on his reaction, even Barthelemy seemed shocked to have gotten the decision. Despite the "loss," Usmanee's stock surely rose in this fight and he should have another opportunity on national television. Barthelemy is a good fighter too. He just didn't deserve this victory.
Scores: 98-92, 97-93, 95-95
Records: Gonzalez (16-0-1, 13 KOs); Ennis (23-4-1, 13 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In September, Gonzalez, 23, a 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian and highly touted prospect, got a huge opportunity to face former junior middleweight titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk on HBO and blew it -- badly. Gonzalez came in at 163 pounds -- 9 pounds overweight for a fight contracted at 154. The show went on and Gonzalez looked awful in a dreadful fight that was ruled a draw.
In his return, Gonzalez, who trained in Florida this time (he trained at home for the fight with Dzinziruk), showed up in great shape and was even slightly under the 154-pound weight limit at 152¾ for the fight with Ennis. But in this case it was Ennis, 32, of Philadelphia, who was overweight. He was 170 pounds on Wednesday and cut down only to 161 pounds for the weigh-in, still 7 pounds over the contract weight. However, the camps worked out a side deal under which Ennis gave up $3,000 of his $10,000 purse to Gonzalez. Ennis also agreed to a Friday morning weight check where he couldn't weigh more than 165 pounds. He made the 165 limit and the fight went on as scheduled. Boxing fans would have been better off had it not.
The fight was painfully dull, a dreary affair with little action and almost nothing to get excited about. At least when Gonzalez's fight with Dzinziruk was horrible, Gonzalez's excuse was he was listless because he had been trying to cut weight. This time there was no excuse for his performance. Neither man seemed all that interested in the fight, so why should any of the restless fans watching have cared? Gonzalez was a bit busier than Ennis, whose connect percentage, according to CompuBox, was a bit higher. Gonzalez landed 174 of 690 punches (25 percent) and Ennis connected on 123 of 327 (38 percent). Ennis had been stopped inside three rounds in his previous three losses, yet Gonzalez never seemed to hurt him.
Records: Socarras (6-0-1, 5 KOs); Bowles (6-1, 1 KO)
Rafael's remarks: What a great way to start the year in televised fights -- with two unbeaten fighters stepping up to face each other in a nice preliminary bout that ended with a resounding knockout. Both Socarras and Bowles turned pro 11 months ago and each was taking a chance early in his career for this bout. They should be commended for that. Although at 19, Socarras is younger, the native of Cuba living in Miami also had 145 amateur fights. The experience level showed against Bowles, 26, of Harrisburg, Pa., who had only 50 amateur bouts.
Socarras was controlling the action in a fan-friendly fight when, in the third round, he landed a grazing left hook followed by an excellent right hand square on Bowles' chin. Bowles went down flat on his back. A dazed Bowles rolled over, got to a knee, then barely beat the count. But he was wobbly and referee Max Parker called off the fight at 2 minutes, 11 seconds. Talk about starting with a bang.
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