By Alexey Sukachev
East or West, being at home is best. Eleven years after his last domestic fight, Vic Darchinyan (37-3-1, 27 KOs), the greatest Armenian pugilist of all time, made his much-awaited homecoming. At the Karen Demirchyan Sports Complex in the Armenian capital Yerevan, one of the best active bantamweights successfully retained his IBO title with a one-sided and impressively overwhelming twelve-round unanimous decision over tough-as-nails but very limited Evans Mbamba (18-2, 9 KOs) of South Africa.
The Ring #5 ranked 118lber looked his usual aggressive self from the opening bell. Darchinyan, 35, just came inside to battle with 29-year old South African and did his best to bomb Mbamba away. He was partially successful in the first round, when a crushing left uppercut to the breast section momentarily stunned Evans and put him down during the middle of the opening stanza. However, the guest fighter calmly got up and showed no signs of shock but soon thereafter switched into a full-fledged survival mode, which sadly lasted till the end of the contest almost without any breaks.
Darchinyan was very confident, boxing out of his trademark crab stance, while Mbamba, also a southpaw, was staying at the ropes, utilizing a tight nutshell to avoid any significant damage. In the next three rounds, Darchinyan showed all of his vast offensive arsenal to no effect as the South African demonstrated a tremendous chin and overall durability as an adequate answer to Vic's aggressiveness. However, Mbamba did little to upset the local national hero and was just content to survive and survive and survive...
Round five saw a tiny comeback from the challenger, who tried some huge overhand left bombs, which mostly hit air. Despite those unfruitful passages, Mbamba was able to open a slight cut over Darchinyan's left eye. In the sixth stanza, Vic immediately turned back the tide and landed some meaningful punches through Mbamba's tight guard. Both fighters were boxing good in round seven but Darchinyan had a considerable advantage in activeness, power and speed to take the round. Rounds eight and nine were in favor of Darchinyan, who mixed his body shots with right hooks and left crosses to tag Mbamba time and again. The South African was fighting in spurts but failed to deliver something bothering either to the head or to the body of the champion.
Sensing that his hometown roaring crowd needed something more than just a dominant performance, Darchinyan went in for kill when he came out for the tenth round. He put Mbamba down a couple of times, which were ruled slips and pushes by referee Phil Austin, who was overly active and interrogating throughout the contest. Darchinyan was delivering all kinds of punishment while the African fighter was just sitting at the ropes and backing up behind his guard relying much on his durability.
Darchinyan enjoyed a one-sided (possibly ten-eight) tenth stanza and did everything he could to finish off the challenger. He was unable to do so but at the end of the day it didn't matter a bit, as all three judges gave the fight to Darchinyan with identical (and surely wide) scores, which were sadly announced in Armenian rather than in English.
BoxingScene scored it 120-106 - for the Armenian national hero, who was ranked #1 by the WBA, #2 by the WBO, #5 by the WBC and #6 by the IBF, coming into this fight. Mbamba, who fought for the second time out of his native state, was best known for his one-sided loss to then-WBC interim champion Tomas Rojas in 2009.