Vic Darchinyan will get title shot
As a flyweight and junior bantamweight, Vic Darchinyan was a dominant champion. But he has had his problems at bantamweight, where he is 0-2 in world title bouts. He will try to reverse his 118-pound fortunes in a third crack at a world title.
Darchinyan, who turned 36 last week, will challenge Shinsuke Yamanaka in Tokyo on April 1, Gary Shaw, Darchinyan's promoter, told ESPN.com on Saturday.
Shaw said there was a chance the fight might be moved back one week into late March. He said he closed the deal with Teiken Boxing promoter Akihiko Honda on Friday night.
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"I am very happy I was able to make a world title fight for Vic," Shaw said. "He wanted another opportunity so badly that we took this fight for short money to do it."
During his 2004 to 2007 flyweight title reign, the heavy-punching, trash-talking Darchinyan (37-4-1, 27 KOs) made six defenses and became a staple on Showtime before losing his belt to Nonito Donaire on a fifth-round knockout. During his 2008 to 2010 junior bantamweight title reign, Darchinyan made four defenses and unified three major belts.
But as a bantamweight, he has not had similar success. During his junior bantamweight reign, Darchinyan stepped up in weight to challenge titleholder Joseph Agbeko, who outpointed him in a competitive fight in July 2009.
In his last fight, on Dec. 3, Darchinyan lost a lopsided decision to bantamweight titlist Anselmo Moreno, a technical fighter who boxed circles around him.
Darchinyan, a native of Armenia who lives in Australia but has fought his biggest fights in the United States, participated in Showtime's four-man bantamweight tournament with mixed results. He lost a highly competitive split decision to Abner Mares -- who later won a world title -- in the semifinals in December 2010, but rebounded for a shutout five-round technical decision against former titlist Yonnhy Perez in the April consolation match.
"Vic says he feels he can fight and win at 118 pounds," Shaw said. "He has not had the success he had in the lower divisions, but he has also fought the best fighters in the world and he has not lost to inferior fighters. I thought he won the Mares fight, absolutely, 1,000 percent.
"A lot of people thought he won that fight. The only fight I believe he was outclassed in was against Moreno and that was a style mismatch thing. It just was not a good matchup for Vic. But no matter who he fights, he brings action and he brings the fight."
Yamanaka (15-0-2, 11 KOs), of Japan, is very inexperienced compared to Darchinyan, but he won a vacant belt on Nov. 6 by knocking out Mexico's Christian Esquivel in the 11th round, although Yamanaka, 29, was knocked down in the fight.
"I haven't seen any film on him but I was able to make the fight for Vic," Shaw said. "I'll get some film and have a better feeling of what we are up against after I look at it. I give credit to Vic for wanting to always fight the best and being willing to travel around the world to fight wherever the opportunity is."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.