By Cliff Rold
It’s hard not to think about Cristian Mijares.
WBA Bantamweight titlist Anselmo Moreno (31-1-1, 11 KO) has built up a small but devoted following among the hardcore faithful in recent years with eight title defenses since 2008. The 118 lb. division has been at high ebb, arguably the most competitive weight class in the game right now. Moreno has looked like one of its best, but in performances far from the bright lights of the Showtime tournament or marquees led by the likes of Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire.
This Saturday, change is afoot for Moreno. The 26-year old has a chance to show the broader boxing world what fans who have crawled through YouTube footage of bouts with Wladimir Sidorenko and Nehomar Cermeno have raved about.
There is also the chance he could go Mijares.
Mijares, many readers will remember, went on a sweet run at 115 lbs. beginning with a 2006 WBC title win against Katsushige Kawashima. A rare stoppage of the stiff chinned Kawashima in the rematch led to a showdown with Jorge Arce. Most assumed Mijares had been chosen to play opponent. Instead, he boxed Arce’s ears on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao-Jorge Solis.
A hardcore darling was born.
Mijares continued to do solid work with a sharp win over Jose Navarro on the undercard of Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor II and a unification win against WBA titlist Alexander Munoz on a small pay-per-view show. It was enough to garner ‘pound-for-pound’ looks in some corners (including this one).
It was enough to warrant a bigger stage.
The stage collapsed under the weight of Vic Darchinyan’s fists.
Matched with the former IBF Flyweight titlist, and then-reigning IBF 115 lb. titlist, in a ballyhooed Showtime unification match, Mijares was dropped with a big shot in the first round and ultimately overwhelmed for a ninth-round knockout.
Mijares has had some successes since, bouncing back from two more losses right away to Nehomar Cermeno (one controversial, one not) to win another belt at 115. Competing today at Jr. Featherweight, Mijares has been largely relegated to being a popular draw in his native Mexico. Time will tell if the world stage ever comes calling again.
For now, it’s Moreno’s turn.
The slickster has a lot going for him. Tall for 118 lbs. at 5’8, he’s a rangy southpaw with quick hands and feet who can sometimes evoke the great Pernell Whitaker. His style might not be an easy sell for fans who chance lower weight classes for action so proper matching is a must. Like Mijares, he’s got Showtime.
He’s also got Darchinyan (37-3-1, 27 KO).
Nothing Moreno has seen to date is anything like the Armenian “Raging Bull.” In a lengthy, and too often underappreciated, career, Darchinyan’s only losses have come to a Nonito Donaire whose talent is off the charts and a pair of physically strong natural bantamweights in Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares. In his last outing on U.S., Darchinyan was running over former titlist Yonnhy Perez, dropping the tough Colombian before a cut hastened the end in round five for a technical decision win.
The lesson has been fighters who can’t keep Darchinyan from coming forward go backwards, usually somewhere towards the floor.
Defeating Darchinyan may or may not validate opinions regarding Moreno as one of the top two-three in his division, but losing would be a deep wound. Proper matching, finding an opponent who can bring the excitement to the contest, is a must but so is plain old winning.
Moreno has proven adept at finding the victory circle.
His only defeat came via split verdict over four rounds in his eighth pro fight. Since that 2002 blemish, Moreno has been flawless. He’s done it the hard way more than once. While the Panamanian has had more than his share of fights at home, Moreno has traveled for five of his nine title fights. In three of the five, the night has ended with a split decision.
In Germany defending against the same Sidorenko he traveled to take the title from with a unanimous nod…in France against an inspired and comebacking Mahyar Monshipour…in Venezuela against a Cermeno who represented the nation in the Olympics…
Moreno went on the road and escaped with split nods over all of them. Think about all the robberies in boxing, all the road verdicts that leave jaws dropped, and ask how good a fighter has to be to avoid it when they don’t score knockouts.
That’s how good Moreno has been. It’s part of why he’s built a following.
None of it has come against a Darchinyan. The best thing Moreno can do is avoid the bombs. The next best is take them and box like hell right through it. Anselmo Moreno is knocking on the door of the bigger boxing world, ready for his chance to come out of the boxing underground.
Darchinyan is waiting to send him back.
The Weekly Ledger
But wait, there’s more…
Canelo Cracks Kermit: http://www.boxingscene.com/cintron-gets-ginger-snapped-review-ratings-update--46528
New Ratings: http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
P4P Update: http://www.boxingscene.com/-update-boxingscenecom-pound-pound-top-ten--46597
Picks of the Week: http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--46556
Cliff’s Notes… Of course, Moreno-Darchinyan doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s the chief support to the excellent Abner Mares-Joseph Agbeko II. Report cards for both are coming…Ditto for the even bigger NYC show this weekend. Cotto-Margarito II on HBO PPV makes this Saturday one of the best two show nights in a long time…Chris John wins again. Can someone get him a unification bout before he’s too old to enjoy it…No one can say Wlodarczyk didn’t deserve his latest win at Cruiserweight. Knocking out Danny Green on the road almost makes one forget the Palacios nod. Almost…Vitali Klitschko versus “Ow my toe.” Is this exciting?
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]