Lupe Pintor, Albert Davila, Carlos Zarate and Alfonso Zamora. These bantamweights were the fighters that shaped my image of the sport of boxing. Their courageous and outstanding performances made for entertaining evenings while I sat next to my father and an occasional uncle or friend who would stop on by.
Every Saturday night, boxing from “La Arena Coliseo” in Mexico City would be transmitted to channel 12 out of Tijuana. We could usually pick up a grainy signal in northern San Diego if the wind was blowing properly and the antenna on the roof was pointed just right.
That was then. This is 2011. No need to fuss with aluminum hardware sitting on your roof-top anymore. The Showtime cable television network sends the signal crystal clear and in Hi-Definition in some cases. The names have changed too. Abner Mares, Joseph Agbeko, Yonnhy Perez and Vic Darchinyan are arguably the four best bantamweights in boxing at the moment. If it wasn’t for one Nonito Donaire, there would be no argument.
On Saturday night at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, the highly skilled and motivated four-some were set to continue the bantamweight tournament that first started in December of 2010. Mares took a decision from Darchinyan and Agbeko defeated Perez. Both fights were thrilling, high level, boxing affairs that kept the fans wanting more.
Unfortunately, Agbeko, of Ghana, Africa sustained a back injury just as he arrived in L.A. and his headlining fight against Mares has been postponed. Twenty five year old Mares, from the L.A. suburb of Hawaiian Gardens, will now face Agbeko to declare the final winner of the tournament at a later date while Perez and Darchinyan are moved into the top spot as headliners.
The new main event which was supposed be the co-main, should be a good one too. Perez and Darchinyan are proven warriors who always bring their “A” game and more importantly always leave everything in the ring. They will not disappoint. They’re almost incapable of it.
Yonnhy Perez (20-1-1, 14 KOs), a proud Colombian whose many sacrifices and hardships have been chronicled several times will face the rugged Armenian and former two division world champion Vic Darchinyan (35-3-1, 27 KOs). “Whoever can make the most adjustments will win the fight,” Perez said. “I would tell my fans that everyone should show up on that night. Our styles will make for a great fight.”
He believes he had a much superior training camp for this fight than for his losing effort against Agbeko. “I’m not making excuses but before my last fight, I did my entire training camp in the U.S. and I felt so unmotivated because my mind was with my family and there was nothing I could do about it,” he remembers. “I was mentally drained and the proof was in my flat performance against Agbeko. He fought the perfect fight that night but I wasn’t there mentally. I wish I could erase the past and continue to the future on a positive note, but I lost. Now, my confidence is back and I am ready to win again.”
Darchinyan, a brash talking, brutal puncher, was essentially outworked by Mares during the final three “championship” rounds of their encounter. He says this time he plans to end things as soon as possible. “I’m going to show that once I knock a fighter down I’m coming to finish him. In my last fight I had (Mares) knocked down in the second round but I didn’t finish him,” he said. “The same thing will not happen again. He threw some low blows and won the fight. So there’s no more playing around. This time it’s just go for the knockout.”
Perez isn’t letting Darchinyan’s words get to him. “He can make any comment he would like to make. It’s a free country and he has the right,” he said. “Darchinyan is a great fighter but he has faded in his last couple of losses. Abner Mares put him at the door and I am going to put him out.”
These are intense fighters with backgrounds and tales of hardship that would make anyone with even an ounce of humanity shed a tear. It’s those tough times that have shaped their personalities. It’s what drives them on their quest to be the best.
Between them they’ve experienced all of life’s metaphorical punches. They could’ve lashed out and went down the wrong path like some of their childhood acquaintances who ended up in jail or dead.
Instead they chose to become world class athletes. They worked tenaciously and with incredible dedication to get to this point and now they’re being rewarded with well paid fights and the national spotlight cast brightly on them by Showtime sports.
They’re a true example of hard work paying off.
Ultimately, it’s the fans that will get the biggest reward.
Don’t miss Yonnhy Perez vs. Vic Darchinyan airing on Sat Apr 23, 10:30 P.M. E.T./P.T. on Showtime.