I’d like to eat most of my words, please. I thought Vic Darchinyan would get totally outclassed by highly-regarded fellow junior bantamweight (115 lbs.) Cristian Mijares Saturday night, and that Darchinyan would get knocked out. Instead, the result was completely, 100 percent diametricaly opposite of that. Darchinyan may have won every round en route to a flat-out KO in the 9th round. It was a stunning performance and the biggest win of Darchinyan’s career, defying the vast majority of boxing writers who picked against him and didn’t buy his argument that he would be smarter and faster than Mijares. “To all the writers out there — did I keep my promise?” Darchinyan said afterwards, and he earned the right to gloat, not that the natural braggart needed an excuse.
The win effectively erases the knockout loss Darchinyan suffered last year
against Nonito Donaire, when Darchinyan was totally outboxed. If there are some words I shouldn’t be eating, it was that I raised a crucial point of distinction between Donaire and Mijares: Donaire has excellent reflexes and is faster. Given Darchinyan’s knack for firing bombs from unpredictable angles, those reflexes came in very handy for dodging purposes. Mijares, by contrast, usually thrives defensively on anticipating his man’s moves, and it’s hard to anticipate someone like Darchinyan who may have some method to his madness but whom I suspect often doesn’t always know what he’s going to do himself.
What made Darchinyan more dangerous to Mijares than I could have expected is that Darchinyan, too, was faster than Mijares. And, shockingly, Darchinyan’s defense was excellent. Mijares usually throws his jab plenty, but when he did, Darchinyan wasn’t there to be jabbed. That made it hard for Mijares to open up. Darchinyan deserves great credit for why Mijares didn’t look all that great. That said, Mijares made crucial mistakes, too.
Darchinyan’s uppercut kept landing because Mijares kept bending low, to great effect in the very first round, when a left uppercut decked Mijares. Mijares did a little better in the subsequent two rounds as he appeared to figure out Darchinyan a little, but not enough to win any. In the 4th, Mijares at the urging of his corner went on the attack and kept Darchinyan backing up, and in so doing earning himself the only round I gave him. But he slowed down after that and never really picked up the pace again, even when Darchinyan seemed a little gassed in the 7th. In the 9th round, Darchinyan began bombarding Mijares at will, and a somewhat stumble-y Mijares kept wading in foolishly. Darchinyan threw out a hard jab that forced Mijares out of position, then Darchinyan landed a cruise missile of a straight left hand, his best weapon, and it was goodnight for Mijares. The referee didn’t even get a chance to count before it was declared over.
I have before said that I think Mijares might be overrated. I didn’t anticipate Darchinyan would be the one to expose him. Mijares isn’t suddenly a bad fighter, don’t get me wrong, but I overrated his ability, based on past performances, to defuse big punchers. I thought this was an awful style match-up for Darchinyan, but it turned out it was an awful style match-up for Mijares.
Next for the winner: I think this makes Donaire-Darchinyan II even more enticing. I might not have been so interested before, because I was convinced Donaire and anyone like him would make Darchinyan look bad. Now, with the wrinkles Darchinyan has incorporated into his game, it’s got the look of a more competitive bout. Since I’d been clamoring for Mijares to fight the man I considered the #2 boxer in the division, Fernando Montiel, I also now feel duty-bound to root for Montiel-Darchinyan. Darchinyan, as always, has a great big appetite for all the biggest fighters he can get, and Showtime’s team said he wanted Israel Vazquez. That might be premature, but I won’t laugh it off quite the way I once might have after this really revelatory performance, because he was awfully potent at this weight after a couple early stumbles.
Next for the loser: Mijares may have just run into the wrong opponent. I don’t know. I had a feeling that if he lost anytime soon, it would be in fighting a quicker, harder-hitting, fellow techinician, like a Montiel or a Donaire. But the talk of him being Fighter of the Year, talk that was deserved, is totally down the drain. I bet he’s evicted from pound-for-pound lists that had him as high, incredibly, as #4, and that Darchinyan makes a few instead. This was a real setback of a loss, I think, not because, again, Mijares is a bad fighter, but because he really was coasting to great esteem in boxing and more than a few people are going to question it. He looked afterwards like he was in shock. Moving up to 118 pounds seems like a less plausible idea after a knockout loss to a man who last year was a 112-pounder. Mijares has shown the ability to adapt, so if he can rebuild his confidence, he might come back better than ever. Best of luck to him.
On The Undercard
It wasn’t a great night for everyone named Vic. Super middleweight (168 lbs.) prospect Andre Dirrell looks like he’s fully graduating to contender after a really easy win over Victor Oganov, who couldn’t handle Andre Dirrell’s awe-inducing speed and not insignificant power. Oganov can punch, but the one or two times he landed flush, Dirrell showed no evidence that it bothered him. Oganov was just way out of his depth technically, on offense and defense, so Oganov just kept wading into Dirrell’s speedy, crunching shots. Dirrell could hardly miss him, and he had so much success he almost seemed like he was getting physically tired of it. By the 6th, Dirrell had Oganov stumbling around off a pair of nasty uppercuts, and and the referee stepped in to stop it. It was a questionable call, sure, but I’ve got no problem with it. Dirrell was handing Oganov one of those scary kinds of beatings, and it looked like he was about to get knocked down and maybe out. Maybe Oganov rallies against a tiring Dirrell, but more likely he gets KO’d. Now he lives to fight another day. I think Oganov isn’t very good, but he could make a living, if he wants, as a decent threat for rising fighters. Dirrell, meanwhile, showed that he’s ready to take a big step up in competition if he wants it.