Artem Dalakian, one of those titleholders who was specifically hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences, miraculously showed no signs of rust after twenty-one months away from the ring,
He dominated Luis "El Nica" Concepcion on pace to a ninth-round stoppage in the fifth defense of his WBA flyweight title. The fight took place at the AKKO International in Kiev, Ukraine, and headlined the event, promoted by the Union Boxing Promotions.
Dalakian, not a spring chicken at 34, acquired his belt in a classy road win over the American favorite and multi-time champion Brian Viloria in February 2018. He defended his belt four times at home with decreasing frequency but the last time he had been seen in the ring was in February 2020, having won a workmanlike decision over unheralded import Josber Perez.
The fact is that 'El Nica' had fought one day before Dalakian, thus having a layoff of the same length. El Nica, like a phoenix, resurrected his career once again that day, stopping Colombian Rober Barrera in a come-from-behind fashion. Concepcion, now 36, acquired a vacant WBA Interim-title from the win, almost nine years since he held the same belt before his TKO losses to Hernan Marquez. The title he had won that day, was later degraded to the #1 ranking in the WBA ratings following a recent campaign to reduce a number of belts by the sanctioning body.
As always, the Panamanian veteran started aggressively. The former WBA super flyweight titleholder took the center of the ring and chased Dalakian, which suited the latter, a natural counterpuncher. Dalakian moved well and easily avoided danger in the first, scoring with back-fire on occasion. The second was much of the same, mostly the Dalakian's round. Concepcion scored with several punches at the end of the round but the final three-punch combo was delivered by the Ukrainian.
In round three, it became obvious that El Nica's punches were felt well by the Ukrainian. However, Artem moved well to avoid unnecessary damage and scored in return. He clinched whenever Concepcion was able to get inside. The fourth was a bit of clinchfest, which was fought mostly on even terms.
Dalakian rallied in the fifth, scoring with several multipunch combinations, and now Concepcion was forced to seek salvation in the clinch. Later on, Dalakian connected with a series of punches, punctuated with a push by his left hand. Down went Concepcion for a knockdown. The rest of the round was fought on even terms, and neither boxer got an upper hand. The Panamanian was rocked again at the beginning of the sixth but sensing he wasn't ready to go just yet, Dalakian took his foot off the gas pedal.
The Ukrainian ran to (and into) Concepcion in the seventh. He was calmed by a counter and continued to box in a more measured style. The late surge by Dalakian almost forced another knockdown but the Panamanian weathered the storm. Yet, Dalakian was a firm general of the ring at that point. He continued to dismantle the guest fighter in the eighth but was unable to get the job done.
It was in the ninth, when the fight was over. Dalakian immediately jumped at his opponent and dropped him hard. As soon as Concepcion was up, he continued to get a beating until the Panamanian's corner threw in a towel.
With the win, rarely fighting yet usually heavy punching Dalakian improves to 21-0, with 15 KOs. Concepcion is now 39-9, with 28 KOs.