Look who was back up to his old tricks, as he promised he would be. Vic Darchinyan finally found his punching power at bantamweight Saturday on Showtime, then used it to smash the previously unsmashable Yonnhy Perez on his way to a five-round technical decision route. Coming off some shaky performances and a close loss in his last fight to Abner Mares, it was getting around time to think the 35-year-old Darchinyan was well into the kind of decline that usually comes earlier for some of boxing’s smaller men when they age. When he announced the strategy beforehand, the idea of a knockout-less bantamweight Darchinyan trying to outslug the iron-chinned Perez sounded like it originated from Darchinyan’s trademark arrogance, but he dropped Perez in the 1st and hurt him multiple times per round thereafter. These Showtime tournaments sure have been a thrill when it comes to boxers showing that one loss don’t mean a thing: You can always get it back the next fight. You have to admire Darchinyan for doing just that.
As good as Darchinyan looked, Perez didn’t really show up tonight. He was on the defensive from the first Darchinyan power shot, and while he would occasionally find Darchinyan with combinations and counter rights, he wasn’t doing near enough to hold off Darchinyan’s straight right/uppercut onslaught. The key for Perez is to swarm his opponent with near-constant machine gun bursts, but he couldn’t even pull the proverbial trigger. For four and a half rounds, Perez did prove one thing, and it’s that he can take a helluva lot of punishment. Maybe he’s taken too much in all of his brawls, because that’s two fights in a row he’s had trouble with said trigger. Then in the 5th came the accidental head butt that opened a gusher over Perez’ left eye, and the doctor wisely recommended stopping the fight. Perez, alas, didn’t wait for that ruling before seemingly indicating that he himself didn’t want to continue. While it would have been hard for him to continue with the cut under any circumstances, I wish he would not have apparently tried to quit. Naturally, he lost a wide decision when it went to the scorecards.
Perez’ trends these past two fights aren’t good ones. He’s not very fast, not skilled defensively, thrives on a volume offense and showed difficulty Saturday handling Darchinyan’s punches. With his punch volume slowing to a relative trickle and now his chin showing dings, it could be hard for him to recover from two straight comprehensive losses. As a fan — he’s given us several Fight of the Year candidates and honorable mentions — I hope he figures it out, or at least figures out if he even can.
Perez’ anemic showing will reflect poorly on Darchinyan to an extent, but he really did look like old destructive Vic, although maybe he was gassed for stretches in a few of those rounds. Even if Perez has lost his punch resistance, Darchinyan showed he can win the way he used to, at least for five rounds. Someone suggested that Darchinyan is a Hall of Famer, and I admit the idea hadn’t occurred to me. I know some people don’t like him, but he’s a helluva fun fighter and if he does get into the HOF, performances like this will be the reason why (along with his runs at flyweight and junior bantam).
Up next could be a rematch with Mares. Tricky situation, that. Gary Shaw, Darchinyan’s promoter, had warned beforehand that he plans to appeal the IBF for a shot at Mares with Joseph Agbeko sidelined. While Shaw is watching out for his fighters, he shouldn’t be trying to undermine the tournament, since Mares-Agbeko is the winners bracket. If the IBF approves that request absent Agbeko being out a LONG time, it’s going to have a bit of a public relations situation on its hands, and while it doesn’t seem likely to me they’ll go that route, I wonder how defenders of the alphabet gang would react to that. Hopefully, Mares and his team will stand up for Mares-Agbeko the way Mares did when Agbeko had to pull out of the fight this weekend — they could be a nice backstop to make sure this tourney is seen through to the end.
Better, instead, would be Darchinyan against the winner of Mares-Agbeko, or that old Nonito Donaire rematch that got a lift in cache — even if Darchinyan would be a heavy underdog — Saturday with a destructive show by the crusty Armenian.