Friday Night Fights: Arash Usmanee talks training at Mayweather Gym and first world title shot

Arash Usmanee gets his first world title shot tonight on ESPN Friday Night Fights. He talks about preparations at the Mayweather Gym and his mental focus with Corey Erdman.

Corey Erdman, The Fight Network

The time has finally come. After you got robbed last time out on ESPN, did you think this was still going to happen?

Arash Usmanee

After that, I wasn't even thinking of anything like this. But I was so close, eventually I would have to -- you know, I'm a grinder. I would have grinded this opportunity sooner or later. I'm glad it's sooner than later.

Corey Erdman, The Fight Network

You took a completely different career path after that happened. You split up with your team and kind of went off on your own. What was that like, because I remember when that happened you sent me a message and you were like, "I need a manager right now, what's happening?" What was that like kind of being off on your own and in turmoil?

Arash Usmanee

I was in Montreal, and I kind of felt a little bit stranded for a little bit. But I've been in this game long enough. I made some calls, I got the media out, you guys did me some work. People heard of it and I got some phone calls. I've got a good team behind me. The opportunity is given because of those reasons.

Corey Erdman, The Fight Network

It seems like you made the right decision. You have a world-class trainer, you have a promoter who clearly got you a world title fight right away. How was the first training camp in Las Vegas with Eddie Mustafa Muhammad?

Arash Usmanee

Well, we were preparing for Art Hovahnnisyan. It's good. Training's -- at first it was really hard in the Mayweather Gym, but once I got used to it, training's good, sparring's good. Everything's been going great.

Corey Erdman, The Fight Network

What is the atmosphere like in the Mayweather Gym? I know a lot of people talk about it being like, the dog pound, and the sparring is really intense. Is it everything that people talk about?

Arash Usmanee

Yeah, a little bit. The sparring is intense. It's like a fight when people are sparring. Everybody stops and watches. It's good. You get the same kind of feeling as if you're fighting.

Corey Erdman, The Fight Network

Do you think that prepares you well for a fight like this, because a lot of guys that come out of that gym say, "I think my sparring was a little bit harder than the fight."

Arash Usmanee

In a way, for sure. But, like, this is a world title. You can't compare your training, your sparring. You try to do everything to be at this point. It's gonna be -- it's new, you know, at least for me. You can't really compare it, but at the same time you try to emulate everything that you are going to face in the fight.

Corey Erdman, The Fight Network

You mentioned that at first in camp you were training for Art Hovhannisyan. Now you're dealing with a completely different fighter in Argenis Mendez. Did your approach change going in there against Mendez as opposed to what you would have done against Hovhannisyan?

Arash Usmanee

Our thinking of training changed a little bit. How are we gonna fight this guy? So our planning had to change, but the training, you know, we kept training hard and just focused a little bit towards my new opponent. A little bit, but not really.

Corey Erdman, The Fight Network

Obviously he's coming off the scary knockout against Juan Carlos Salgado--

Arash Usmanee

Scary for you.

Corey Erdman, The Fight Network

Do you look at that and are you concerned at all about his power heading into this one?

Arash Usmanee

No, man. There's a saying, "Fear is the brother of death." I ain't afraid of no man. I love pressure. I have some pressure on me. I got countries, you know, not just -- Alberta has never had a world champ. Afghanistan, I'm honored to be Afghani, and Canadian. So I have some pressure, and I love it.

Corey Erdman, The Fight Network

You're kind of fighting for three places at the same time. You're representing Alberta, Montreal and Quebec obviously, all those people behind you, and you have Afghanistan with at the same time. Is there one that you identify as most, as being from one place?

Arash Usmanee

My heart is Afghani, but I was born and raised there. I got a lot of fond memories that are scary from there. My base is Afghani. That's what builds me. That's what takes the fear away from me when opportunities like this come. But I'm so very blessed to be a part of all of this, and representing Vegas now.

Corey Erdman, The Fight Network

Absolutely, but Canada, we'll take the world title if you can bring it home.

Arash Usmanee

That's it. Oh, for sure. I'm definitely gonna -- we'll put Vegas aside when I get the title.

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