By Cliff Rold
It was, based on the quality of its pairing, already a main event on most nights. It just wasn’t supposed to be one on the Saturday night ahead. Despite both combatants entering the fight having lost their last time out, this is as good a match as can be made.
That says a lot about the context.
Vic Darchinyan vs. Yonnhy Perez was meant to be the consolation round for Showtime’s well-conceived Bantamweight tournament. A freak sciatic nerve injury to IBF titlist Joseph Agbeko put the kibosh on his showdown with Abner Mares. The tournament will be settled another day.
Now, well, we’ve still got one hell of a fight. Funny how that can work out in the best division in boxing.
Let’s go to the report card.
Title: Lineal World Junior Bantamweight (2008-Present, 3 Defenses)
Previous Titles: IBF Flyweight (2004-07, 6 Defenses) ; IBF Jr. Bantamweight (2008-09, 2 Defenses); WBC/WBA Jr. Bantamweight (2008-10, 3 Defenses)
Height: 5’5 ½
Weight: 117.8 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 116.55 lbs.
Hails from: Sydney, Australia
Record: 35-3-1, 27 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #7 at Bantamweight
Record in MajorTitle Fights: 12-2, 10 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 6 (Wandee Singwancha, Irene Pacheco, Victor Burgos, Dimitri Kirilov, Cristian Mijares, Jorge Arce)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 2 (Nonito Donaire, Joseph Agbeko)
Previous Titles: IBF Bantamweight (2009-10, 1 Defense)
Weight: 117.6 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 117.85 lbs.
Hails from: Santa Fe Springs, California (Born in Colombia)
Record: 20-1-1, 14 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #4 at Bantamweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-1-1
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated and Faced in Defeat: 1 (Joseph Agbeko)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Darchinyan B+; Perez A-
Pre-Fight: Power – Darchinyan A; Perez B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Darchinyan B; Perez B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Darchinyan A; Perez A
While 35 is usually old for men this low on the scale, Darchinyan has yet to show much interest in the demands of Father Time. He scored a knockdown in his tournament loss to Mares and many felt it could have gone his way. The same could not be said for Perez. After a masterful win over Agbeko in 2009 to score a belt, and a rousing draw with Mares in his first defense (and yes, this tournament really does feel like a secret round robin when one thinks about it), Mares could never really get going in the Agbeko rematch.
Part of that had to do with adjustments Agbeko made, boxing more and countering the aggression of Perez. Darchinyan, despite awkwardness, is hardly as wild as he often looks and is very good at using aggression against foes. While he has yet to display the power at Bantamweight that made him a star as a Flyweight titlist and in unifying the Jr. Bantamweight title, it would be a mistake to think Darchinyan can’t crack at 118.
He’s faced outstanding foes for the most part in the field. That makes a difference.
Perez is a high output fighter who looks to throw all night, testing the endurance of opponents while keeping his arms high to pick off shots. The question of the contest is likely to be a simple one: can Perez move Darchinyan backwards with activity, keeping the puncher off balance, or does his activity walk him into a big shot?
It’s a terribly tough question to answer. Of the two, Darchinyan is the more accomplished and probably more versatile. His style looks a little bit turn of the 20th century but he generates great leverage and is better at using angles than he ever gets credit for. Perez is the younger man but hasn’t shown the sort of lightning power that could cause Darchinyan to shell up.
The coin flip comes up with Darchinyan to come out ahead in this one, rocking Perez at some point and banking rounds with well timed charges to snare a narrow majority decision in a sometimes nasty affair.
Report Card Picks 2010: 11-4
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]