|ESPN.com: Boxing||[Print without images]|
Showtime Bantamweight Tournament Consolation
Vic Darchinyan W-tech. dec. 5 Yonnhy Perez
Scores: 50-44 (three times)
Records: Darchinyan, 36-3-1, 27 KOs; Perez, 20-2-1, 14 KOs
Rafael's remark: Darchinyan and Perez were both coming off losses in the semifinals of Showtime's four-man bantamweight tournament and in serious need of a victory in this consolation match. Darchinyan, 35, a native of Armenia living in Australia, had lost a riveting split decision to Abner Mares in their December semifinal. On the same card, Perez lost his title via decision in a hard-hitting fight against Joseph Agbeko, whom Perez had originally won his belt from in their first bout in October 2009.
Agbeko was supposed to defend against Mares in the tournament final in the main event, but a few days before the fight he withdrew because of a case of sciatica. That bout is expected to be rescheduled, but Showtime faced a decision on whether it should go through with just the consolation match rather than a televised doubleheader. On paper, Darchinyan and Perez figured to make for an excellent fight, and Showtime went with the one-fight telecast.
It turned out that Darchinyan, a former flyweight and junior bantamweight titleholder, thoroughly dominated in something of a surprise. It was not a shock that Darchinyan won -- just how easily he did it. Perez, 32, of Colombia, simply had nothing. Frankly, he looked like a shot fighter. He could not get his punches off, he could not defend himself against Darchinyan's swarm of shots and he looked slow. Although Darchinyan has not carried his power up to bantamweight, he landed a ton of flush shots on Perez. After his close loss to Mares, in which Darchinyan tried to box more than usual, he dispensed with that and went back to his old seek-and-destroy style. From the opening bell, Darchinyan was looking to do damage and knock out Perez. In the second round, he landed a sweet and sneaky left uppercut early in the round and dropped Perez. Darchinyan had a huge round, connecting with punch after punch, for which Perez had little answer. It was surprising to see him make it out of the round.
Darchinyan rocked Perez in the fourth round with left hands and was also working the body. It seemed evident that Perez wouldn't last much longer if he kept taking those kinds of shots. In the fifth round, Darchinyan was on the offensive again, but the fight was suddenly short-circuited when an accidental head clash ripped opened a cut over Perez's left eye. Referee Jerry Cantu called timeout to allow Dr. Paul Wallace, the ringside physician, to examine the cut. Wallace, who said Perez had suffered an "arterial bleed," recommended that Cantu call off the bout, which he did at 1 minute, seven seconds. The fight went to the scorecards for a technical decision, and it was quite obvious that Darchinyan, a southpaw, was going to win via shutout. The premature end probably saved Perez from being knocked out.
While Perez's career in the upper echelon of the division is in doubt after two clear losses in a row, Darchinyan -- one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport -- will get another crack at a bigger fight. He already has a clear loss to Agbeko, but if Mares beats Agbeko when their fight is rescheduled, a Mares-Darchinyan rematch would be quite interesting given how close and action-packed their first fight was. Also out there (someday, anyway) is a rematch with Nonito Donaire, the unified bantamweight titleholder, who pulled a big upset when he knocked out Darchinyan in a 2007 flyweight title fight. A rematch has been discussed on and off since. Whomever Darchinyan next fights, one thing is clear: It will be entertaining to watch, just like his fight was against Perez, even if it was one-sided.
Frankie Leal W10 Roberto Marroquin
Scores: 99-92, 96-94 Leal, 97-93 Marroquin
Records: Leal, 16-5-3, 9 KOs; Marroquin, 19-1, 14 KOs
Rafael's remark: In what is quickly becoming the year of the upsets, we got yet another one to add to the growing list as Mexican journeyman Leal, who figured to put up a decent fight in a loss, pulled out a split decision over hot prospect Marroquin in a terrific fight that headlined "Top Rank Live."
Originally, junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan was supposed to headline the show against Saul Roman in a title elimination bout. However, Martirosyan got sick and missed enough training that he pulled out of the fight, which was postponed until June 4. That left Top Rank to move Marroquin, 21, of Dallas, into his first main event and bump up his fight from a scheduled eight-rounder to his first 10-rounder.
Leal did not figure to pose much of a threat. Three fights ago (in August 2009), Leal got a massively undeserved shot at then-unified junior featherweight titlist Celestino Caballero, who went to Leal's hometown of Mexicali and stopped him in the eighth round. Leal followed that fight with a draw. But despite a spotty record since 2007, the best Leal showed up against Marroquin -- who was fighting not too far from home and had the crowd on his side -- and pulled a major upset in a spirited and bloody brawl.
Marroquin started fast, but Leal eventually got into a rhythm and was giving as good as he was taking. He gave Marroquin a bloody nose in the fourth round, and an accidental head clash in the sixth round opened a cut on Marroquin's hairline. By the later rounds, Marroquin's left eye was badly swollen and Leal was still coming on. They traded on the inside for long stretches in a hard-to-score fight. There were several close rounds that could have gone either way, which is what obviously accounts for the judges' wildly divergent scorecards. You could make an argument for either guy, or even a draw. It was just that kind of a fight. But the loss is a big setback for Marroquin, who was being groomed for stardom by Top Rank, which had put him on both of Manny Pacquiao's undercards at Cowboys Stadium to expose him to the Dallas-area fans. Great win for Leal and, hopefully, a good learning experience that Marroquin bounces back from.
Tommy Zbikowski KO1 Blake Warner
Records: Zbikowski, 4-0, 3 KOs; Warner, 1-3, 1 KO
Rafael's remark: Zbikowski is taking this boxing thing seriously. The Baltimore Ravens safety, who is boxing during the NFL lockout, had almost 100 amateur fights, so he is not just a football player who picked up gloves and decided to fight professionally. Top Rank will take its time with Zbikowski and there is much improvement to be made, but he seems dedicated. He has been working with trainer Emanuel Steward, although he was not present in the corner for this fight. But Zbikowski, 25, of Arlington Heights, Ill., made quick work of Warner, 33, of Oklahoma City.
In his previous fight, Zbikowski was pushed to the limit in a very tough fight with Caleb Grummet on the Yuriorkis Gamboa-Jorge Solis undercard March 26. Warner was smaller than Grummet and less threatening, and Zbikowski did damage as he won for the third time since March 12. Zbikowski displayed a crisp jab (an element of his arsenal that is improving) and a deadly right uppercut. He hurt Warner with the uppercut and then unloaded a series of body shots with both hands. He had Warner reeling before putting together another flurry, during which Zbikowski hammered him with two more nasty uppercuts. As Warner was falling to the canvas, referee Vic Drakulich called off the fight with 40 seconds left in the round. Top Rank will schedule Zbikowski for his next fight in May and then again in June. He will likely fight about once a month, at least through the summer and the NFL lockout.
Also on the undercard, middleweight prospect Matvey Korobov (15-0, 9 KOs), a 2008 Russian Olympian, took a six-round unanimous decision against Marcos Primera.
Breidis Prescott W10 Bayan Jargal
Scores: 100-90, 99-91, 99-90
Records: Prescott, 24-2, 19 KOs; Jargal, 15-2-3, 9 KOs
Rafael's remark: Any good Fight Freak knows Prescott's claim to fame: The 27-year-old Colombia native living in Miami pulled a massive upset in September 2008 when he went to England and drilled Amir Khan in 54 seconds in a lightweight fight. Khan, of course, would dust himself off, go on to win a junior welterweight world title and become one of the most significant fighters in boxing. Prescott has had his troubles since, losing a couple of decisions but bouncing back to win three in a row after dominating Jargal.
Prescott, who calls himself "Khanqueror," has been trying to talk Khan into a rematch because there would be a very healthy payday that would go along with it. But Khan has not taken the bait. He fought (and dominated) undeserving Paul McCloskey two weeks ago and has a possible unification fight with Timothy Bradley Jr. on tap for July 23. If he wins that fight, Khan said, he would fight Prescott again to try to avenge his lone defeat. In the meantime, Prescott continues to fight, taking on Jargal in the main event of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
Jargal, 29, a native of Mongolia living in Arlington, Va., is a tough customer who comes to fight. He pressed forward, but he had few answers for the quicker Prescott's steady attack. Prescott used his jab well, mixed in his power shots and generally had an easy time in rolling to the decision.
Demetrius Andrade KO2 Omar Bell
Records: Andrade, 13-0, 9 KOs; Bell, 8-2, 5 KOs
Rafael's remark: Andrade, 23, of Providence, R.I., was a 2008 U.S. Olympian, a 2007 world amateur champion and is considered one of the top prospects in boxing. However, he is being moved v-e-r-y, v-e-r-y slowly by co-promoters Artie Pelullo and Joe DeGuardia. He was in relatively soft yet again against Bell, whom he routed. Andrade went into this fight without his father, Paul Andrade, as his trainer and manager, a big change on his team. But it was business as usual as he dominated the first round and then ended it in the second. He caught Bell with a left hand to the body and Bell went down. Although he didn't look too hurt, Bell got to a knee and took the full count from referee Dick Flaherty at 1 minute, 31 seconds. It was another easy win for Andrade against another weak opponent.
Bell, 32, a native of Jamaica living in Atlanta, had stepped up in class once before and was knocked out in the first round by welterweight prospect Keith Thurman in 2008. Bell was also fighting for the first time in 13 months.
Kevin Rooney Jr. W4 David Navarro
Scores: 40-34 (three times)
Records: Rooney, 1-0; Navarro, 0-3
Rafael's remark: Rooney, 26, of Catskill, N.Y., is the son of famed former Mike Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney. With his father in his corner, Rooney Jr. made his pro debut under interesting circumstances: He is also the full-time publicist for Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia. So besides fighting, Rooney also was working the show as a PR man and event coordinator. He learned to box from his father and grew up around the gym, and after a brief amateur career (during which he went 9-2), he went to work as the Star Boxing publicist about 2½ years ago. But being so close to the sport on a daily basis got him fired up to train and try to turn pro.
Rooney's debut was a success as he easily defeated Navarro, 33, of Philadelphia. He dropped Navarro with a sweeping left hook about 30 seconds into the fight. In the second round, he dropped him hard again with a left hand and rolled to the shutout decision.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.