Tonight, Arash Usmanee challenges for a title for the first time in his career when he meets Argenis Mendez on Friday Night Fights for the IBF 130-pound title.
Usmanee (20-1, 10 KOs) and Mendez will close this season of ESPN2’s flagship boxing program. It is only fitting that Usmanee be part of the final show, given that he opened the program in January against Rances Barthelemy. Usmanee lost a highly controversial decision in that fight and hopes he closes the year with a better taste in his mouth.
“Immediately after that fight, I was obviously really disappointed,” Usmanee told RingTV.com at the Mayweather Boxing Club while preparing for the fight.
“I kind of hated the sport to tell you the truth. Even weeks after, it was bugging me. It all turned out for the best.”
Despite losing his perfect record, Usmanee got the call to face Mendez in the final ESPN2 card of the year, promoted by Mike Tyson’s new promotional company. Usmanee couldn’t believe his luck.
“I had a smile on my face because of how this turned out,” said Usmanee.
“If I had won the fight, the same result would have probably been a title shot. Right when I heard I thought it was karma, I got what I was fighting for.”
Usmanee will be entering the fight with a completely new team around him. He has added trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and trains in Las Vegas rather than back in Canada.
“Sparring wise, it is a different atmosphere,” admitted Usmanee. “In Canada, I was the star of the gym. Here I’m not the big fish in a small pond, it makes you train a little harder working around superstars and the heat is murderous.”
Tonight, Usmanee hopes to close the season much the way he started, albeit with a different result for his hard work.
“I don’t know if it is a coincidence but I opened the show and I’m going to finish it. As boxers we are always trying to make a statement, and it won’t be any different against Mendez.”