Afghani-Canadian super featherweight contender Arash Usmanee wishes to congratulate new IBF Super Featherweight Champion Rances “Kid Blast” Barthelemy for his title-winning decision over Argenis Mendez last Thursday (July 10) in Miami.
“Barthelemy looked good taking it to Mendez and he deserves the belt,” said Usmanee.
But now that the dust has settled on the Barthelemy/Mendez rivalry, Usmanee (21-2-1, 10 KOs) says the new champion has only one thing he can do to prove he deserves his spot on top.
“Barthelemy himself knows he didn’t beat me when we fought. If that fight was anywhere but his backyard, he would have never even gotten the chance to fight for the title. If he’s a true champion, he will face me in his first defense and try to erase what everyone but the three judges saw as a loss for him.”
Usmanee and Barthelemy faced off in January of last year in the Cuban Barthelemy’s adopted hometown of Miami and, after 12 rounds, the nearly unanimous consensus was that Usmanee had come on in the second half of the fight to dominate and deserved a clear decision. Unfortunately, the three judges saw it another way and awarded Barthelemy the unanimous verdict. The fight was an IBF title eliminator for the #2 spot in their rankings.
“If our fight was held anywhere but his backyard, he would have never gotten the chance to win the belt,” continued Usmanee. “If he wants to be a true world champion, then he can’t pretend that didn’t happen. A true champion would want to try to erase that blemish on his record immediately and I hope that’s what he chooses to do in his first defense.”
Usmanee’s promoter, Greg Cohen of Greg Cohen Promotions, says he is waiting to hear from Barthelemy’s promotional team.
“They know how lucky their guy got in Florida against my guy. And I know they’re all honorable people, so I expect they’ll take a little time to enjoy the belt and then we can all get to work on establishing the true champion of the IBF at super featherweight. My guy isn’t just going to go away. They need to make this fight to establish their own legitimacy as champion.”
In August of last year, Usmanee, established his performance against Barthelemy was no fluke by fighting to a draw with then-champion Mendez in his only world-title try.
In April of this year, Usmanee took an over-the-weight and short-notice fight (less than one week) against a much bigger Rey Beltran and lost a decision after a valiant effort as the co-feature on the Pacquiao vs. Bradley II undercard. Since then, Usmanee won a decision June 13 over the durable Juan Ruiz and is laser focused on securing the much-deserved rematch with Barthelemy.
Cohen stated, “Usmanee vs. Barthelemy II is a fight that must be made to establish who the true king is at 130 lbs in the IBF. I’m eagerly awaiting hearing from Barthelemy’s people to start negotiations.”