By Cliff Rold
Nearing the end of a career that may end with a trip to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, 37-year old former two-division champion Vic Darchinyan (39-5-1, 28 KO) of Vanadzor, Armenia, got a game challenge in what appeared a tune-up and scored his first knockout since 2009, dropping 29-year old Javier Gallo (18-7-1, 10 KO) of Bueno Park, California, three times in a wild second round before lowering the boom for a fourth round stoppage win Saturday night at the Uni-Trade Stadium in Laredo, Texas.
Darchinyan, making his second career start as a Jr. Featherweight after consecutive title fight losses to Anselmo Moreno and Shinsuke Yamanaka at Bantamweight, came into the bout a pound and a half over the division limit at 123 ½. Gallo weighed in at 123 ¼. The referee was Mark Calo-Oy.
The southpaw Darchinyan appeared in firm control behind his right jab early but late in the first it was Gallo seizing command with a buckling right hand. Darchinyan kept his balance and headed to the corner almost mad at himself.
He took his anger out on Gallo right away in round two. Bursting from the corner, Darchinyan let loose with an assault to drop Gallo for a count. Gallo rose, weathered a flurry, and started firing back. For his trouble, he ate a left hand and wound up on the seat of his trunks. Gallo popped up and nodded he could go on. The underdog absorbed a murderous left, and then a few more, before buying some space with a left hook off the ropes.
Darchinyan, fighting with no regard for defense, made the same mistake he had in the first and walked into a big shot from Gallo. His legs wobbly, it was Darchinyan playing the survivor as Gallo pushed for the dream come true upset. His chance slipped by and Darchinyan turned the tide once again with a left hand to drop Gallo as the bell sounded to end round two. Gallo again beat the count and went to the corner.
After paying a price for fighting with reckless abandon in the first two rounds, round three saw a slightly more technical Darchinyan on display. Bouncing on his toes, he still took Gallo’s rights but was moving in and out and boxed well. Gallo kept his feet and Darchinyan won the round with room to spare.
Gallo wouldn’t stay afoot much longer. Probing with his right hand extended, Darchinyan lined up a perfect left down the pipe and Gallo went down hard. Referee Calo-Oy didn’t bother to count, halting the action at :26 of round four.
Darchinyan, a Flyweight titlist and World Jr. Bantamweight Champion, is currently rated #2 by the WBC, #7 by the IBF, and #1 by the WBO at 122 lbs. The current WBO titlist at 122 is lineal World Jr. Featherweight Champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
In the televised opener, 22-year old two-time Mexican Olympian and fledgling professional Featherweight Oscar Valdez (4-0, 4 KO), 127 ¾, of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, stayed perfect with a first round stoppage of 25-year old Rocco Espinoza (4-7), 127 ½, of Las Vegas, Nevada.
The difference in class was evident from the first blow thrown. Valdez was too quick, and hit too hard, for Espinoza to do anything but hope to be awake for his check after the fight. To his credit, Espinoza tried hard but it didn’t stop him from visiting the floor three times, first on a left to the body and then off a long right to the head. The last trip came on a single rifle shot of a left hook, referee Wilfredo Esperanto stepping in right away to halt the action at 2:58 of the opening frame.
The card was televised in the U.S. on UniMas as part of its “Solo Boxeo” series, promoted by Top Rank.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]