Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan, the mighty mouse of the smaller weight division, spearheads one of three fight cards taking place in the Southern California area this week.
Beginning Thursday in Los Angeles and then followed by fight cards in Temecula on Friday and Rancho Mirage on Saturday when Darchinyan defends his WBA and WBC junior bantamweight titles at Agua Caliente Casino, it’s three fight cards in a row.
Darchinyan (33-2-1, 27 KOs) faces yet another unknown southpaw Mexican slugger in Mexico City’s Rodrigo “Gatito” Guerrero (13-1-1, 9 KOs) who only has 60 rounds of experience compared to 218 rounds for the Aussie Armenian. It’s hard to rationalize when he’s considered one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world.
But you never know how good this Guerrero kid is.
Back in 2003 when the late great Vernon Forrest fought an unknown brawler named Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga nobody gave the Nicarguan a chance. Then the beer swigging, cigarette chain smoker beat Forrest not once, but twice. The first upset took place in Temecula. Only one other fighter ever beat Forrest who was murdered last July.
It was three years ago when the mighty Darchinyan faced then unknown flyweight Nonito Donaire Jr. and was promptly obliterated with a left hook. He’s rebounded well from that knockout loss and recently added two junior bantamweight world titles. But sometimes you never know about these unknown fighters.
Also on the Agua Caliente Casino fight card is another Aussie named Leonardo Zappavigna (22-0, 15 KOs) meeting Ecuador’s Fernando Angulo (22-6, 14 KOs) for the vacant IBO lightweight title. It’s a strange match because Angulo has lost two in a row. Why does he get a world title shot?
One other fighter fans might want to see is fast rising heavyweight prospect Lateef Kayode (10-0, 9 KOs). The power puncher is trained by Freddie Roach.
The main event was supposed to feature Andre Dirrell facing Germany’s Arthur Abraham in the second leg of Showtime’s Super Middleweight Tournament. But the American was injured and that fight has been moved to Detroit on March 27.
On Friday, at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, Mexico’s Martin Honorio (27-4-1, 14 KOs) defends the NABO lightweight title against Dominican boxer Wilton Hilario (12-0-1, 9 KOs) in a 12-round fight.
“I feel very happy to be back at Pechanga Resort & Casino. I feel very content with Goossen Tutor Promotions and appreciative that they brought me back to a place where I won my title,” stated Honorio. “The meaning behind it is much more than any other location. I won my last title there so I feel all that much more comfortable there, almost as if I’m home.”
The fight card spotlights four of Goossen-Tutor’s best prospects with junior featherweight Rico Ramos, John Molina, Mike Dallas Jr. and Walter Sarnoi stepping in the ring.
Ramos (14-0, 8 KOs) is a super quick 122-pounder from Los Angeles who signed a managerial contract with Al Haymon. If that name’s familiar it’s because he also has contracts with Floyd Mayweather, Chris Arreola, Paul Williams and many others.
Molina (18-1, 14 KOs) is trying to rebound from a decision loss to Honorio that took place in the same arena last November. It was somewhat of an upset for the West Covina fighter who many felt would knock out the Mexican veteran. But he was out-maneuvered throughout the 12 rounds and lost. The knockout puncher is trained by Joe Goossen.
Dallas (11-0-1) is a long armed undefeated welterweight who has good speed but not good power. He’s still making the transition from amateur to professional and is improving vastly with two hard fought wins in the last two fights against Sergio De La Torre and Vincent Arroyo.
On Thursday, at the Shrine Exposition Center near downtown Los Angeles, Ernesto Zavala (20-4, 8 KOs), 37, returns to the ring after nearly five years of inactivity. He faces Jason Davis (11-5-1) in the co-main event.
“He didn’t gain too much weight so he’s in good shape,” said Freddie Roach who trains the Burbank resident. “He’s hungry again.”
Zavala’s last fight took place in 2005 when he lost by technical knockout to Jose Armando Santa Cruz.
Also on the card is southpaw Ricky Duenas (5-1, 2 KOs) a clever junior welterweight out of El Monte. He lost his pro debut back in 2008 but has steadily gained quirky but effective boxing skills.
“He’s just a natural,” said Ben Lira who trains Duenas.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 7 p.m., Martin Honorio (27-4-1) vs. Wilton Hilario (12-0-1).
Sat. Fox, 7 p.m., Ulises Solis (29-2-2) vs. Bert Batawang (45-14-3).
Sat. Showtime, 11 p.m., Vic Darchinyan (33-2-1) vs. Rodrigo Guerrero (13-1-1).
Sat. HBO, 9:30 p.m., Devon Alexander (19-0) vs. Juan Urango (22-2-1).
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?