The first couple rounds, it looked like it was going to be an easy night for Vic Darchinyan. Then in the 3rd round, Jorge Arce looked like he might, after all, give his fellow power puncher but better boxer a handful. But it didn’t take long for Darchinyan to take back over, and by the 11th round, after round upon round of Darchinyan dominance, the doctor recommended stopping the bout, and I couldn’t disagree.
So count me as surprised. This was no surefire action brawl among tiny action-oriented junior bantamweights (115 lbs.), as I’d anticipated. It was a compelling bout in places with a few minutes of drama and Darchinyan’s swollen and damaged face suggested a closer result than we got, but it was a tad anticlimactic given my expectations.
Darchinyan fought well, even if his impatience at times led him to degenerate into sloppy, careless Vic, and Arce, aside from a few punches here and there, fought just about as poorly as I could imagine. On the other hand, I can’t remember the last time a boxing match didn’t utterly behave opposite my expectations. It’s just one week after another of things not going according to plan. Think welterweights (147 lbs.) Andre Berto and Luis Collazo will fight a skillful technical battle? Think again — it was all slugfest. Think welterweight Antonio Margarito will stomp his elder Shane Mosley? Quite the opposite. Expect Darchinyan-Arce to thrill one way or the other? Nah, but it had its good attributes, anyway.
The issue was that, as I feared (hey, look — I got something right!) Darchinyan was at least one full level above Arce. Arce is a tough sumbitch, no doubt about that at all, but against anyone with a shred of toughness and a modicum of skill, you need something else.
And Arce, I can’t say this enough, basically did everything wrong. From the very 1st round, I was like, “Are you kidding me? Is he really just going to put his head down and launch punches from 45 degree angles from behind his head and see what happens? And if that’s his ‘strategy,’ could he at least not do it from 10 feet across the ring?” It just didn’t make sense. He circled in the wrong direction plenty, too, as the Showtime commentators pointed out. I thought there may have been some rhyme or reason to it when he stunned Darchinyan in the 3rd with a hail mary left and quick straight follow-up right, but it was about the only straight punch he threw all night. When things got ragged in the next couple rounds, I even found another one to award to Arce, in the 5th. His body work did some good in spots, too.
But basically for every other moment, Darchinyan was in control. He sprinkled in uppercuts from way the hell out and body blows and right hooks to season his signature straight left, and Arce didn’t want to or couldn’t get out of the way of much of it. Darchinyan countered most of Arce’s ill-timed and ill-considered Lunges of Exceptional Clumsiness. His face was cut up, and even the back of his head and his ear was cut. My friend Kevin estimated his face was a full 1/8th bigger in the late rounds than it was in the fighter introductions. I read somewhere that someone thought Arce would be the faster man, and there was some talk by the Showtime crew before the bill that Arce was “technical” or “skillful” or something. I don’t know what Arce fights they saw. Again, I like Arce. He makes fun fights and he’s got guts and I like his punch variety. But that’s it. Darchinyan knew how to use this little technique commonly referred to as “dodging” and was just better in every category except maybe his ability to take a shot.
By the 11th, Arce was complaining to the referee and getting thrown around in clinches. I thought in that round, “Maybe they should stop this.” I could have gone either way, really. Arce wanted to fight on — of course he did — but the California State Athletic Commission was on its game tonight, unlike other recent evenings of boxing (ahem ahem). Cuts did Arce in. Arce tried appealing to the enthusiastic pro-Mexican crowd, but it was clear that the Australian Armenian’s fists had more of an influence over the CSAC than did any other ethnic group.
We’ll get to the undercard bout tomorrow when we examine all the other weekend action, but I’m not convinced Darchinyan-Arce was even the best fight of the night. It’s nobody’s fault. Darchinyan was just significantly better, and only Arce’s fighting spirit and Darchinyan’s careless urges to score the knockout made it remotely entertaining.
Next for the loser: Arce said he wanted a rematch, and while I praise him for wanting to challenge himself, he’s a tad on the delusional side if he thought Darchinyan’s elbows were to blame for the loss. For every elbow Darchinyan landed, there were another 3,472 punches that did more harm. That he hung at all speaks well of him, but I’m thinking Arce needs to stick to crowd-pleasing brawls with lesser opponents, or at best guys who are maybe only .5 levels above him, like your Dimitri Kirilovs or somebody.
Next for the winner: Ah, here’s where things get offensive. Darchinyan promoter Gary Shaw is soooooo determined to punish Nonito Donaire for his “disloyalty” that he won’t make the fight that Darchinyan himself and any right-minded fan ought to want to see, which is Donaire-Darchinyan II. As I’ve said before, every promoter has his or her good qualities and bad qualities, but by far Shaw’s worst quality is his pettiness toward any boxer who decides to leave him and any other promoter he doesn’t like at the moment. Is a boxing promoter’s job to throw temper tantrums and act on vendettas, or is it to make good fights and good money? It is just endlessly annoying that Shaw doesn’t care what fans might want if it is contrary to his grudge of the moment. So Darchinyan says he wants Donaire again, and Shaw says “no way,” instead offering up Rafael Marquez or Israel Vazquez. I know Darchinyan wouldn’t mind either man, but if he gets caught and hurt by Arce, what would either of those two do to him eight pounds north? If Darchinyan must move up, I say he does so at bantamweight (118 lbs.), against either Fernando Montiel, Joseph Agbeko or Gerry Penalosa. But in an ideal world, Darchinyan could fight who he wanted without having to abide by whatever wild hair Shaw has that day.