Vic Darchinyan’s hard-fought losing effort to Abner Mares in December was good enough to get the former flyweight and junior bantamweight titleholder rated No. 10 in THE RING’s bantamweight rankings.
The Australia-based Armenian veteran was pushed to No. 8 when two new fighters — Koki Kameda and Malcolm Tunacao — entered the magazine’s 118-pound top 10 earlier in the year.
Darchinyan has advanced up the bantamweight rankings yet again, this time on the merit of his dominant victory over Yonnhy Perez on Saturday.
Darchinyan (36-3-1, 27 knockouts), who scored a second-round knockdown while manhandling the respected Colombian for four rounds, was ahead 50-44 on all three scorecards when the fight was stopped after Perez suffered a horrendous cut from an accidental clash of heads in the fifth round.
The technical decision victory moved Darchinyan to No. 6 in THE RING‘s stacked bantamweight rankings and also earned awkward southpaw puncher a measure of respect that had eluded him since he stepped up in weight two years ago.
Many fans and boxing writers viewed Darchinyan as a blown-up junior bantamweight, a notion that was supported by his decision losses to naturally bigger Joseph Agbeko and Mares.
However, his performance on Saturday may have changed some minds. More than a few boxing writers who figured he was too small to get Perez’s respect now consider Darchinyan to be a real player in the deep and talented 118-pound division.
That’s good news for fans. Intriguing high-profile rematches loom against the likes of dual bantamweight beltholder Nonito Donaire, who knocked Darchinyan out in a flyweight title bout in 2007, and Mares, who narrowly out-pointed him by split decision.
The good news for Darchinyan is that even fans who distain his abrasive brand of confidence — some would call it arrogance — are taking a closer look at his overall body of work and giving him credit for a borderline hall-of-fame career.
Darchinyan, who is going strong at an age (35) when most sub-featherweights are finished, has faced nine world titleholders, including Donaire, Agbeko, Perez, then-undefeated (30-0) Irene Pacheco, and respected Mexican stars Jorge Arce and Cristian Mijares.
From February of 2008 to December of 2009, Darchinyan fought six consecutive RING-rated contenders, compiling a 4-1-1 record against Z Gorres (draw 12), Dmitry Kirillov (KO 5), Mijares (KO 9), Arce (TKO 11), Agbeko (L 12) and Tomas Rojas (KO 2), who went on to win a 115-pound title. Darchinyan unified three junior bantamweight belts during that impressive run.
There’s no question that he’s the most accomplished Armenian fighter in history, but some members of the media who covered the Perez bout ventured to call Darchinyan one of the all-time best “Soviet” professional boxers, given that Armenia is a former republic of the Soviet Union.
One can certainly make the argument. Apart from former junior welterweight champ Kostya Tszyu (Russia), who was recently inducted into the hall of fame, and the Klitschko brothers (Ukraine), who else from the former U.S.S.R. comes close to Darchinyan’s accomplishments?
Ring ratings update:
Bantamweights: Darchinyan (No. 8 last week) and Perez (No. 6 last week) trade places following Darchinyan’s technical decision over Perez.
Strawweights: Former IBF titleholder Muhammad Rachman returns to the rating at No. 10 following his knockout of previously undefeated Kwanthai Sithmorseng. Rahman’s reinstatement pushes out Michael Landero (No. 10 last week).