LOS ANGELES-Sitting inside a restaurant seemingly without a care in the world was Cristian Mijares looking like a Mexican Don Juan with his shirt opened, groomed black hair and brilliant looking smile.
A few feet to his left, sat the always menacing Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan looking like a Tasmanian Devil ready to pounce on whatever target he’s pointed.
You couldn’t ask for two more different characters. But both represent the best of the 115-pound junior bantamweight or super fly division.
With only two weeks remaining, Mexico’s Mijares will put up his WBC and WBA world titles against Darchinyan’s IBF to discover the best fighter in the division on Saturday Nov. 1 at the Home Depot Center.
A surprisingly packed crowd arrived at El Paseo Inn restaurant in historic Olvera Street. Both the Spanish language and English press arrived in force to cover the press conference promoted by Gary Shaw Productions and DiBella Entertainment.
Whenever Darchinyan is part of a boxing card the word “knockout” gets bandied about. It’s the Armenian fighter’s favorite word.
“I can’t tell you if it will be 12 rounds or a knockout,” said Darchinyan (30-1-1, 24 KOs) whose nickname is Raging Bull. “But I always knock everybody out.”
Mijares, ever the burgeoning matinee idol of his homeland, maintains the same poise he displays inside the ring, always calm always subdued but sharp as a tack.
“I don’t like to talk a lot,” said Mijares (36-3-2, 15 KOs), who lives in Durango, Mexico. “We’ll definitely have a great fight.”
Darchinyan, 32, now lives in Australia and is training in Las Vegas. If you love boxing then you have to look forward to the man with dynamite in his fists and a single goal to dismantle whoever is inside the boxing ropes when the bell rings.
Last August, most were surprised at the ease he destroyed Russia’s Dimitri Kirilov. It wasn’t supposed to be that easy because of the supposed boxing ability of the former champion.
“I knocked him out,” Darchinyan said.
Knockouts, knockouts, knockouts. If that word wasn’t available Darchinyan would be at a loss for words because he probably wakes up in the morning in a cold sweat dreaming about that word.
Or maybe it’s from being knocked out.
As a flyweight he terrorized the 112-pound division and hospitalized Mexico’s Victor Burgos the last time he fought at the same Home Depot Center. Then he met Nonito Donaire who decided to drop down in weight and was smacked into dreamland with a left hook he never saw or remembered. He didn’t even know he was knocked out and asked his corner why the fight was stopped.
“My fight with Nonito Donaire was just a mistake,” said Darchinyan who was left unconscious for almost two minutes. “He caught me on the jaw. It was a lucky punch.”
You have to admire his total commitment to the knockout.
“I’m going to punish him,” Darchinyan promises.
Mexico’s Mijares, 27, comes from a fighting family and is the nephew of former lightweight contender Vicente Mijares Saldivar. It’s his first fight in Southern California.
“It’s going to be great for the fans,” said Mijares who has already fought three times including August 30 when he knocked out Thailand’s Chatchai Sasakul in three rounds. “I’m going to win this fight and I’m going to win comfortably.”
Always smiling, Mijares resembles a ballad singer with his spiffy clothes and mild manner. When he first captured the world title, he was just a name on a fight card in Japan. He was expected to lose but surprised Katsushige Kawashima and the crowd with his nimbleness in the ring and boxing smarts.
Opponents and boxing fans are beginning to catch up to the very technical Mijares who basically embarrassed fellow Mexican fighter Jorge Arce when they met in the ring a year and a half ago in San Antonio.
During this press conference Darchinyan predicted –what else- the fight will end a in a knockout win when he meets Mijares.
The Mexican boxer looked over his shoulder without changing his expression and then smiled faintly.
“I like it when guys talk a lot,” he said. “It brings out the best in me.”
Tickets are priced between $25 and $200 at Home Depot Center.
WBC Legends of Boxing Museum
Inducted last week to the WBC Legends of Boxing Museum in San Bernardino were boxer John Montes Jr., cut men Tony Rivera and Chuck Bodak, trainer Freddie Roach, and radio and TV announcer Carlos Avila.
Montes was a Southern California boxer out of Whittier who captured the California junior welterweight title in 1986.
Rivera is a corner man who recently worked in Ricardo Mayorga’s last fight against Shane Mosley in Los Angeles. Others he worked for were Alexis Arguello, Roberto Duran and Marco Antonio Barrera. He’s currently writing a book about his life in boxing that should be very interesting.
Bodak was the first cut man for Oscar De La Hoya when he turned professional. He’s known for the sticky patches he puts on his head during fights.
Roach is considered one of the best boxing trainers in the world. He currently is preparing Manny Pacquiao for his mega fight against De La Hoya on Dec. 6 in Las Vegas.
Avila has been covering boxing for more than three decades. Originally from Argentina, the dapper announcer is a regular in Southern California and is considered one of the most knowledgeable announcers in boxing.
Fights on television
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., Irving Barrera (16-3-3) vs. Chris Smith (21-5-1)
Fri. Telemundo, 11:30 p.m., Jorge Lacierva (34-7-6) vs. Feider Viloria (21-3-1).
Sat. HBO pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Kelly Pavlik (34-0) vs. Bernard Hopkins (48-5-1); Steve Luevano (35-1-1) vs. Billy Dib (21-0); Abner Mares (17-0) vs. Luis Melendez (25-3-1); Enrique Ornelas (28-4) vs. Marco Antonio Rubio (42-4-1).