MIAMI, Fl. — We couldn’t even have a few weeks of peace before the nonsense started. Not even a full week into 2013, boxing fans have been reminded that not much has changed about our beloved sport with ESPN’s Friday Night Fights kicking off their season with a good main event sullied by an absolute robbery decision victory for Rances Barthelemy. Let’s review the embarrassing turn of events.
ONCE AGAIN, A FIGHTER GETS POINTS JUST FOR COMING FORWARD: In the first two rounds, it appeared that Afghan fighter Arash Usmanee was headed to a knockout loss. Barthelemy was landing hard, compact left hooks at well and countering Usmanee’s offense with stiff jabs. The latter punch was so effective that twice it stunned Usmanee as if it were a power shot. But starting in the third, Usmanee began slipping the punches effectively and throwing excellent body shots around Barthelemy’s long arms. By the middle rounds the tide had completely turned with Barthelemy reduced to haymaker shots that lost more and more steam as the rounds (and body shots) mounted. By the end, Barthelemy was spent and it looked to be on his was out in the 12th when Usmanee abused him on the ropes.
I only gave Barthelemy a round after the second so imagine my incredulity at Barthelemy being awarded the fight on scores of 115-113 and 116-112 twice. To even have this fight remotely close, you have to completely ignore clean punching (especially to the body), defense and ring generalship, things I thought were the part of the criteria judges are supposed to score.
ANOTHER OBSTACLE FOR USMANEE TO OVERCOME: Before the fight, we got a nice video package of Usmanee’s tough upbringing in Afghanistan and losing his father in the war-torn country. By the end, yyou understood all the adversity he’s overcome just to make it to America and progress a fighter. To wtiness all that work derailed by shoddy judging made this robbery feel much worse. Usmanee had no words and immediately stormed from the ring. Teddy Atlas was outraged to the point of hoarseness and appropriately so. He posed the rhetorical question of when things will change, citing the need for federal intervention as the only way to stifle much of the cavalier corruption running amuck in this industry.
Unfortunately, with the “fiscal cliff” controversy and the majority of America living check to check, the government doesn’t have the time nor funds to justify spending the millions needed to investigate, clean up and provide a new infrastructure for boxing. For the foreseeable future, we’re on our own. And best believe the shady characters are fully aware of this.
A NICE OPENING KO AND A MID-CARD DUD: The junior featherweight four-rounder to start the night ended in a lovely KO courtesy of 19-year-old Hairon Socarras, who dropped Josh Bowles flat on his back with an overhand fight. Then it was became a chore watching the yawning waltz that was Johnathan Gonzalez’s majority decision victory over Derek Ennis. If you saw Gonzalez’s draw against Serhiy Dzinziruk last September, you saw the same plodding fighter last night. Kudos if you can stay awake through it.
Friday Night Fights heads to Sante Fe, New Mexico next week for a show headlined by a lightweight clash been John Molina Jr. and Dannie Williams