Barthelemy Co-Promoter: What Controversy?
Leon Margules, co-promoter of now IBF #2 super featherweight contender Rances "Kid Blast" Barthelemy (18-0, 11 KOs) says he feels the level of controversy after Barthelemy's close, but deserved, 12-round unanimous (115-113, 116-112, 116-112) decision over Arash Usmanee on Friday night at Stage 305 in the Magic City Casino in Miami, is both surprising and unfounded.
"Some internet writers from some reputable sites have been claiming Usmanee was robbed and that this was a 'corrupt' and 'hometown' decision and to them I say: Before you try to sully the reputations of some long-time boxing people, watch it again closely without the commentary and decide for yourselves."
Margules concedes it was a close fight, but feels accusations of a hometown decision and robbery are irresponsible given Barthelemy's large early lead and the difficult-to-score nature of many of the subsequent rounds.
"You've got Usmanee doing more work, but not really being effective and you've got Rances picking his opportunities to land the harder, cleaner blows. Three experienced judges with solid reputations decided in the majority of the rounds, Rances was more effective. It's that simple. They aren't corrupt for making that call. Watch the fight again. Even if you don't agree, you can see how they could have leaned that way. It's not a travesty of justice that Rances won this fight. Far from it. In my opinion, he deserved to win."
Margules' opinion is backed by some important boxing writers with impeccable reputations.
"I had Barthelemy 7 rounds to 5," said Santos Perez, the longtime well-known long-time boxing writer for the Miami Herald. "Several of the rounds were close, but I thought Barthelemy built enough early rounds. A draw would not have been a travesty, but Usmanee winning 8 or 9 rounds, like some scored it, is quite a reach. I assume the majority believe that Usmanee won, but some media members, whose judgment I trust, also had Barthelemy winning."
Margules also got another in-ring endorsement for his man that night: Usmanee's own manager.
"Douggy Berneche, Usmanee's manager, told me he thought Rances won the fight. I came over to him after the fight to congratulate his guy on a great performance and he told me 'your guy won 8 to 4.' I said 'no, it was a close fight, let's see what happens.' In fact, I have heard that on TV you can hear Usmanee's cornermen telling him he needs a knockout before the final round, so even his team had their doubts about whether they were winning before this controversy took hold."
Margules says Team Barthelemy are not against a rematch with Usmanee down the road, but for now they're looking for the world title opportunity their man has rightfully earned in the not-so-distant future.
"Everybody settle down. What happened to Carlos Molina against James Kirkland? That was a robbery. Pacquiao vs. Bradley, that was a robbery. There were a few other high-profile fights last year you could call robberies. Barthelemy vs. Usmanee was a close fight that a majority of people there live had going my guy's way. No one in the live audience booed the decision. Seems like those who watched on television were somehow swayed into another school of thought. But regardless who you thought won, it was a very good, close fight that honestly could have gone either way."