By: William Holmes
HBO’s Boxing After Dark series, which tends to feature upcoming prospects on the cusp of breaking out into stardom, put on a triple-header last night from the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut.
Bob Papa, Roy Jones Jr., and Max Kellerman served as the announcers tonight. They paid respect to the recently deceased heavyweight champion Corrie Sanders with the traditional ten tolls of the bell, and then moved right into the first bout of the night.
Alex Perez (16-1) and Antonin Decarie (27-1) was the first bout of the night for the NABF Welterweight Championship.
Decarie, the Montreal, Quebec native, had few problems disposing of the undefeated Newark, NJ native. Perez was the taller fighter and was a southpaw, but as Boxing Insider writer Hans Olson noted last night, Decarie looked impressive in stopping Perez at 2:54 of round six. He showed superior movement and defense, and mixed up his body attack with devastating right hooks and straight left hands.
Decarie’s vast experience as an amateur was evident as his movement looked more natural and fluid. Decarie knocked Perez down near the end of round six with two hard left hooks, and finished Perez off when he got back to his feet with some devastating right hooks.
The second bout of the night was between the “Raging Bull” Vic Darchinyan (38-5-1) and previously undefeated prospect Luis Del Valle (16-1) in the junior featherweight division.
Max Kellerman noted that this was a classic crossroads fight between a past champion and a rising prospect, and an impressive showing by one of them would lead to bigger and better things.
Vic Darchinyan proved a lot of doubters wrong, including this writer, with an impressive and exciting performance over Del Valle. Despite fighting in a weight class that he’s not accustomed to, Darchinyan pressed the action and pummelled Del Valle from the first round on. Darchinyan looked smaller for the weight class, but his fans in attendance urged him on as he continuously came forward and landed devastating punches.
Darchinyan’s punches came from all angles: he threw them with bad intentions and landed numerous punishing lead left uppercuts and body shots. Darchinyan simply beat Del Valle up and made it dirty at times, but he took the big risks and was often rewarded for it. This fight is worth watching again as it featured several moments of exciting exchanges, but Darchinyan was clearly landing the harder and more damaging punches.
Del Valle almost pulled off a comeback victory with an accurate left hook in the ninth round that hurt Darchinyan badly, but the “Raging Bull” was able to survive the round. Del Valle pressed the action in the last round, but Darchinyan made Del Valle pay for his recklessness with crisp and powerful counters.
Del Valle put some worry into the mind of Darchinyan’ fans near the end, but he took way too much damage throughout the fight to win it. In the end the judges scored it 99-91, 99-91, and 96-94 for the not yet finished and new NABF Super Bantamweight champion Vic Darchinyan.
The main event of the night was between the undefeated Edwin Rodriguez (22-0) and the previously undefeated Jason Escalera (13-1-1) in the super middleweight division.
Rodriguez came out as the much bigger fighter, and the much harder puncher. He knocked Escalera’s mouthpiece out twice in the opening round and he pounded Escalera with hard hooks to the body and head. Rodriguez bloodied the mouth of his opponent in the first round and hurt Escalera badly enough to possibly score a 10-8 round. The referee even warned Escalera that he might stop the fight if he didn’t fight back.
Escalera to his credit took the punishment like a man and fought back, but the difference in power between the two fighters was too big for him to overcome. Rodriguez’s punches were loud and thudding, while Escalera’s punches were mainly blocked. Escalera was hurt several times throughout the fight, and was visibly stunned in the fifth round by a right hand.
The end of the massacre came at 0:12 of round eight. Rodriguez came out aggressive and pounded Escalera with several hard hooks to his ears and head. Referee Steve Smoger wisely stopped the fight after a left hook by Rodriguez made Escalera’s right ear a bloody mess.
It was a very impressive display of power by Rodriguez, and he is clearly a contender in a packed and loaded super middleweight division.