By Luis Sandoval
Los Angeles, CA – With the Showtime Bantamweight Finals fight between Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko postponed due to injury, Vic Darchinyan and Yohnny Perez took center stage at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
The bout was in essence a must win for both fighters who looked to remain relevant in the Bantamweight division after entering the evening each coming off of a loss.
By night’s end, Darchinyan prevailed with a dominant showing in a fifth-round technical decision win in their Showtime-televised main event.
Darchinyan wasted no time as he came out strong in the first round against Perez. Darchinyan mounted his attack early finding a home for his straight left right away, taking the role of the aggressor as he backed up Perez while landing looping and straight lefts.
Beaming with confidence, Darchinyan looked to set a statement early and if Perez didn’t see it, he felt it. Perez kept his hands up but his offense was nonexistent as Darchinyan continued to press on.
The second round wasn’t any better for Perez as he went down for the first time in his professional career. The knockdown looked to have happened due to both their feet tangling up though Darchinyan did seem to land a punch.
Regardless, the ref scored it a knockdown. Darchinyan continued to stagger Perez with hard straight lefts with nothing coming back in return. Perez looked to weather the storm as Darchinyan continued to be relentless and load up on punches hoping to end the night early.
If there was a question about Darchinyan’s power at 118, he answered it tonight as he landed a big left hook that made Perez’s legs wobble momentarily. Perez finally looked to mount his offense as he began throwing his right hand but it was still a dominating round for the brash Armenian.
Perez began the third by finally bringing the fight to Darchinyan who up until then had dominated the fight. Perez began coming forward for the first time and had some success landing a lead right which Darchinyan took well. Nevertheless, Perez seemed to be finding his bearings again and working his way back in the fight.
Darchinyan, however, continued throwing his left which at times seemed like it was the only punch he was throwing. It was Perez’s best effort but still not enough to win him the round as he found himself in a deep hole.
Darchinyan picked up where he left off as the fourth began, trying to land his left uppercut inside. The fight began in center ring, but Darchinyan drove ttack and would send Perez into the ropes where he would unload. No doubt about it, Perez was getting beat up and had found no real answer to halt Darchinyan’s offense.
The fifth saw Darchinyan continue to land his left hook at will and push Perez into the ropes where it allowed him to unload his power shots. In one exchange, there was a clash of heads and blood immediately began dripping from a cut on Perez’s forehead.
With blood pouring from the cut, the ringside doctor was called upon to take a look. He examined the cut and waived the fight off much to the chagrin of the crowd on hand.
The ringside doctor said the decision to stop the fight was based on a medical decision and that Perez never indicated he wanted the fight stopped.
However, when the clash of heads happened, Perez shook his head as if to say he didn’t want to continue or was not happy with the head clash.
Darchinyan seemed to think Perez quit and chose not to continue but it was conflicting information. California rules say after four complete rounds you have to go to the scorecards to which all 3 judges scored the fight for Darchinyan 50-44.
In the post-fight interview, Darchinyan expressed his interest to rematch Mares, against whom he lost in the opening fight of the tourney last year. He also called out another former conqueror in Nonito Donaire, with whom a rematch has often been discussed but has never materialized. With his legal battles with Top Rank and Golden Boy, Donaire doesn’t seem like he’ll be fighting anytime soon.
Gary Shaw, who promotes both sides of Saturday’s main event, continued to express his intentions to petition to the IBF to have Mares fight Darchinyan in the interim. Shaw did say he would wait to see more information on the condition of Agbeko who he has a great deal of respect for before moving forward.
Darchinyan and Mares put on a great fight and Darchinyan still feels strongly he won that fight. When asked what he would do different in a Mares rematch Vic replied, “Not get head butted”.
I don’t think we’d hear much complaining if a rematch took place to settle the score.
As for Perez, a rest seems in order as he’s had a string of tough fights. Shaw hinted that Perez might even move up to 122, but all talks are premature and will have to wait until Perez returns to Colombia and takes some time off.