LOS ANGELES – Vic Darchinyan finally got over the hump.
The former flyweight and junior flyweight titleholder had lost his two biggest bantamweight fights, a unanimous decision to Joseph Agbeko in 2009 and a split decision to Abner Mares in his last fight.
A valid question was: Is the fiery Armenian simply not destined to succeed at 118 pounds?
Well, Darchinyan proved beyond doubt that he belongs in the division by dominating former titleholder Yonnhy Perez en route to a one-sided fifth-round technical decision Saturday at Nokia Theater.
The fight was stopped at 1:07 of the fifth and went to the scorecards after Perez suffered a bad cut between his eyes when the fighters’ heads accidentally collided.
That probably saved Perez from a prolonged beating, as Darchinyan, as aggressive as ever, landed so many left-handed bombs that a listless Perez was never able to mount an offense.
A second-round knockdown was more the result of the fighters’ tangled legs than a punch, although Perez didn't dispute it, but it wasn’t a factor in a surprisingly one-sided fight that injected significant life into Darchinyan's impressive career.
Darchinyan won by three identical scores of 50-44, a shutout.
“My nickname is the Raging Bull. It’s good to be back to my brawling style,” Darchinyan said.
Darchinyan (36-3-1, 27 knockouts) has proved to be adept at comebacks.
The resident of Australia was knocked out by Nonito Donaire in the fifth round in a flyweight title fight in 2007 but bounced back to become a unified junior bantamweight titleholder.
He won three consecutive fights after losing to Agbeko to earn a spot in Showtime’s bantamweight tournament only to lose to Mares in the first round, leaving him in the third-place fight against Perez (20-2-1, 14 KOs).
Some thought that Perez, a natural bantamweight, would be too much for Darchinyan. After all, his only loss was a decision in his rematch with Agbeko in the first round of the tournament.
Darchinyan never lost confidence, though. He boasted that he would attack with abandon and score a knockout. He did the former and probably would’ve accomplished the latter had the cut not occurred.
“It was a head butt,” Darchinyan said. “But if it wasn’t a head butt, I would’ve knocked him out.”
Suddenly the future seems bright for the 35-year-old veteran.
Mares was supposed to fight Agbeko, the IBF titleholder, in the tournament final on Saturday but Agbeko pulled out on Wednesday after injuring his back, leaving Darchinyan-Perez as the main event on Showtime.
Gary Shaw, the promoter of Darchinyan, said he will petition the IBF to make a rematch between Darchinyan and Mares a title fight because it’s unclear when Agbeko will be able to return.
Darchinyan would thus have an opportunity to exact revenge on Mares, whose decision in December was very close and controversial.
After his performance on Saturday, many would give the ageless warrior a decent to win.