Friday, 23 August 2013

Argenis Mendez v Arash Usmanee

In a genuinely thrilling contest for the IBF Super Featherweight title champion Argenis Mendez (21-2-1, 11) managed just retain his title courtesy of majority decision draw against determined challenger Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10).

The Afghan born-Canadian Usmanee set off at an amazing pace forcing Mendez on to to the ropes from the off. Although Mendez was comfortable on the ropes with his counter punching skills it was pretty obvious that he lost the opening round with Usmanee seriously out working him. It was clear from the off that Usmanee wasn't there to just make up the numbers and immediately made an impact with his aggression an workate.

Usmanee's relentless aggression continued through out the fight though Mendez managed to put his foot on the gas with his counters in round 2 as he managed to get through with some clean shots of his own. The success of Mendez grew and in round 3 he made a solid case for the round with his counters which had become more and more regular as the opening few rounds went on.

Although Mendez continue to have success with his counters in rounds 4, 5, 6 and 7 it was becoming harder and harder work for the champion to back up the challenger. Mendez's own bombing counters, although looking like monster shots seemed to just bounce off Usmanee who came straight back at him with flurries of shots of his own as he tried to out work and grind down the champion.

Despite Mendez's success through a series of the middle rounds Usmanee would fight back hard in round 8 and 9 as the two men were dragged in to a war. By now Mendez seemed to realise that Usmanee wasn't going to just tire and realised that he was going to have to show some offense of his own. The champion tried to bomb the challenger with fearsome hooks but the challenger, showing his toughness refused to back down as the rounds finished with both men having major success.

The championship rounds saw it all to play for and both men knew it as Mendez began to hold his ground more often and the two men traded in centre ring in a very eye catching back and forth. It was almost impossible to split them as they went at each other with bad intentions, ufortunately the lack of power both men had saw them being able to take the hardest shots with out going down but it looked thoroughly dramatic through out.

It appeared that both men knew the fight was in the balance in the final round and both men fought as if they needed it, giving us one of the genuine round of the year contenders, it, like much of the fight was tough to score. Did you prefer the relentless if somewhat ineffective aggression of Usmanee or the crisp classy work of Mendez?

The judges decided that they liked the styles equally as well as each other and scored the bout a draw, a fitting result given the effort of both men in a bout that I'd certainly like to see again!

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