Photos by Sumio Yamada
VIC DARCHINYAN W tech. dec 5 YONNHY PEREZ
Every now and again, a fight that looks evenly balanced on paper turns out to be a mismatch, and so it was on Saturday night when Vic Darchinyan destroyed Yonnhy Perez in five rounds on Showtime. Although the fight ended anti-climactically on a technical decision, Darchinyan had been dominant in every round and seemed sure to stop Perez in another two or three rounds.
Darchinyan had promised before the fight that he would go back to his old power-punching method after experimenting with a more elusive style, and he delivered on his words.
It seemed that Darchinyan hadn’t packed a great deal of punching power in previous bantamweight bouts against Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares. This was different, though — this was a brutal battering of a fighter who was considered to be durable.
Perez had returned to his native Colombia to prepare for this fight and was said to be looking rejuvenated in the gym after gruelling fights in which he drew with Abner Mares and lost to Joseph Agbeko. Instead, Perez had the no-balance look of a burned-out fighter, although I suppose when Darchinyan is landing his bombs the way he was on Saturday night he can make anyone look that way.
Still, it was worrying to see Perez’s wobbly look every time he got hit, and he looked a very old 32-year-old in the Los Angeles ring, so much so that Antonio Tarver gently suggested in his post-fight summing up that maybe Perez has to ask himself if he can perform at the top level any more.
I think, though, that almost everyone will have been blown away by Darchinyan’s performance. He hasn’t looked this strong, this sharp or, really, this sensational in a long time.
Even before a blow had been landed one could sense that Perez was in trouble. Darchinyan was looking right at Perez during the referee’s pre-fight instructions and Perez was avoiding eye contact and, to me, looking a bit too apprehensive for a fighter about to take part in a 12-round contest against a dangerous opponent.
Sometimes in life we can find ourselves in situations that we wished we weren’t in, and I just had the fleeting impression that Perez was in just such a position in the tense seconds before the opening bell.
Really, it was “fight over” in the opening round. Perez was getting hit too hard, too easily, too early. Although Al Bernstein suggested in the commentary that Darchinyan was expending a great deal of energy — and he was — the fact is that a boxer who is getting hurt is having far more taken out of him than the one who is doing the hurting.
Although Perez came forward and threw punches he never had the chance to get into the hustling, bustling mode that his backers hoped would carry him to victory. He would land the right hand through the middle, get in some hooks and seem to be getting into the fight, only for Darchinyan to drill him with big left hands —often followed by bursts of piston-like punches that backed Perez right up. When Darchinyan floored Perez with a left uppercut in the second round it was obvious that it would just be a matter of time before the fight was over. The head clash in the fifth saved Perez from getting stopped legitimately, because by now Darchinyan was playing with his broken-down opponent.
At 35, Darchinyan looked like a young fighter again and, not for the first time, he has proved himself to be a formidable force at a point in his career when it seemed to some that he might be fading.