As Vic Darchinyan made his ring walk on Saturday night, Antonio Tarver, someone who knows a thing or two about keeping a high level of self-confidence despite facing setbacks, talked about how the Raging Bull felt certain he was going to win.
Considering Darchinyan had more losses as a bantamweight than his opponent Yonnhy Perez, had in his entire pro career, that may have seemed a little strange. But if you've ever seen him fight and (especially) heard him talk, you'll know that Vic's faith in his own abilities is never lacking.
That swagger wasn't misplaced on Saturday, as Darchinyan took control of the fight early and never really let go, sweeping every round en route to an abbreviated technical decision. The fight ended early after an accidental head butt opened a nasty gash over Perez's left eye, but it may have been a bit of a blessing in disguise for the loser, who had already been knocked down and was aprroaching the point where he would have needed a knockout to pull out the fight.
While I thought Perez had a good chance to win the fight by simply staying busier, Darchinyan never gave him the opportunity. The Raging Bull lived up to his nickname by almost sprinting across the ring at the start of the fight, ensuring he would be getting his shots off first at almost every opportunity.
There wasn't much subtlety about Vic's plan of attack, as he looked for the straight left as often as possible. He did mix in some nasty body shots on occasion, but mostly he looked like a kid spamming one attack button in a video game, and there wasn't a whole lot Perez could do about it.
Yet even in a well-deserved victory, the primary reason that Darchinyan hasn't been as successful at 118 pounds as he was in lower weight classes was on display. When Vic hit people with the kind of bombs that struck Yonnhy in Round 2 at flyweight, they usually ended up on the wrong end of a TKO loss. Perez has never been stopped, so his chin and heart deserve some of the credit, but it was telling that he appeared to get his legs back by the fourth round. And though he was stunned again by later punches, it would not have been surprising if he would have gone the distance if that cut hadn't happened.
True to form, Darchinyan called out Abner Mares after the fight, then suggested the last man to beat him wouldn't want any part of a rematch. He even went a step further and said he would knock Mares out. That still doesn't seem likely, but I'll at least grant him this: It's a slightly less far-fetched outcome than it was two days ago.
More random thoughts from the weekend:
* Assuming Mares' bantamweight tournament final against Joseph Agbeko is rescheduled - and there's no reason to think it won't be - why wouldn't Darchinyan get a rematch if Mares wins the whole thing? Though the circumstances are different, it reminds me of the way Mikkel Kessler's business with the other boxers in the Super Six may not be done even though he didn;t make it through to the final.
* I think HBO's team of boxing announcers is top notch right now no matter what combination of Jim Lampley, Manny Steward, Max Kellerman, Roy Jones and Larry Merchant is used for any given fight. That being said, the Showtime booth of Gus Johnson, Al Bernstein and Tarver isn't too shabby either. Johnson brings excitement to any sporting event he does, Bernstein is a knowledgeable and steadying presence, and Tarver is... well, Tarver. He's not quite as good at injecting a fighter's insight as Jones, but the bar for boxers as analysts has been set pretty low in recent years thanks to Lennox Lewis.
* Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski kept his busy boxing schedule going, knocking out Blake Warner on the undercard of Robert Marroquin's split decision loss to Francisco Leal in Oklahoma. If the NFL lockout drags on, Zbikowski is expected to fight May 21 on a card headlined by Alfonso Gomez-Calvin Green and/or the June 4 Staples Center show that features the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sebastian Zbik bout.
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