Vic Darchinyan is called “The Raging Bull” and the passionate former two-division titleholder usually lives up to his nickname in the ring, where his take-no-prisoner’s attitude has resulted in 27 of his 39 opponents getting knocked out.
While most fighters try to keep their emotions out of an upcoming fight, it’s normal for Darchinyan to hold a grudge against the next guy he’ll fight.
True to form, the 35-year-old veteran has some rage for his next opponent, Yonnhy Perez, a rugged former 118-pound titleholder he vowed to “destroy” when they meet in the consolation match of Showtime’s bantamweight tournament on Saturday in Los Angeles.
However, most of Darchinyan’s rancor has been saved for the referee of his last fight.
As far as Darchinyan (35-3, 27 knockouts) is concerned, Robert Howard, who refereed his semifinal bout against Abner Mares in Tacoma, Wash., last December, is the reason he’s fighting in the tournament’s consolation match and not the final. Mares won a split decision to advance to the finals against Joseph Agbeko, who out-pointed Perez in their semifinal match.
Darchinyan believes Mares was helped by Howard’s officiating and he’s still seething over it.
“That referee f___ed me up, badly,” Darchinyan said before a media workout at the Westside Boxing Club in Los Angeles on Tuesday. “He took away my momentum and my confidence to fight my fight because every second he was telling me something: ‘Don’t measure (with your right hand), put your hands down, I’ll take a point from you.’
“I’ve been in 18 world title fights and I’ve never been bothered so much a referee. If I ever experience that from a referee again I’ll knock him out. I wish (Howard) was here now, I’d knock him out.”
Howard seemed fair to most viewers, at least early in the bout, when he deducted a point from Mares in the fourth round for low blows. However, Darchinyan, who scored a knockdown in the second round, believes Mares should have received more warning from Howard and penalized more points for the infraction, which he says continued over the second half of the bout.
“I was in control of the fight,” Darchinyan said. “I like to fight stronger over the second half, because maybe I was going to knock Mares out, but I could not breathe right. After the sixth round I couldn’t breathe and I didn’t know why. Now I know. Low blows. Mares specializes in this illegal punch. I saw him demonstrate on a TV show (Sports Science on Fox Sports Net). This program was about ‘cheap shots’ in sports. It explained what (a low blow) does to the body.”
“If you see this show,” Darchinyan continued, “you will know what was happening to me. He hit me 20 times in the balls. How can I fight like that? How can the referee let this happen and then threaten to take points from me!?”
Darchinyan balled his fists up as he complained about Howard’s officiating.
“I’m still mad about it,” he said. “I’m pissed off just thinking about it. I get pissed every time I talk about it. I’m not mad at Mares. He’s just a kid, and he did what he had to do to survive. Only the referee can protect a fighter from that kind of thing. He didn’t do it for me.”
Darchinyan’s anger subsided when he spoke about his fight on Saturday, which will be the co-feature to the Agbeko-Mares final. The Australia-based Armenian doesn’t anticipate any referee trouble during his fight with Perez.
“I’ve seen Yonnhy fight, he’s a clean fighter, he’s a gentleman,” Darchinyan said. “He’s not coming to punch me in the balls or headbutt me.
“He’s the kind of fighter I like. He thinks he’s strong. I’m going to show him how strong I am. He’s never been knocked down, yes? I’m going to be the first fighter to knock him down and knock him out. I don’t want to seriously hurt him. He’s got kids and a family back in Colombia. I just want to beat him up and send him home to his kids.”
See? He’s only got a little bit of rage for Perez.
Photo by Carlos Baeza/Thompson Boxing.