MASHANTUCKET, CONN — This past Saturday’s edition of HBO Boxing After Dark featured three Lou DiBella-promoted fighters seeking to make big statements before a national audience. Two faltered badly in Alex Perez and Luis Del Valle, and one in Edwin Rodriguez easily dominated an overmatched opponent in what was essentially an exhibition for a matchup with either Kelly Pavlik or Jean Pascal. Let’s take a look back on the performances and where each fighter goes from here.
ANTONIN DECARIE TKO6 ALEX PEREZ
Beforehand, I wasn’t familiar with either guy and took to Youtube to find some fight footage. There wasn’t much, but what I saw made me favor Decarie simply because while both men liked to exchange, Decarie had much faster hands. That was just one of the reasons the Canadian won. Decarie was aggressive in working the body, threw straight rights and hooks that couldn’t miss, and then mixed in left hooks in that last two rounds that proved to be Perez’s ultimate undoing. The storyline Max Kellerman phrased this as was “the streets vs. the gym.” Well, the streets proved to be no competition. Perez claimed on Twitter that he was suffering from a bad stomach virus before the bout. Based on how tight and slow he looked, that may be true. However, injuries and problems leading to the fight are part of the game. Once you’re in the ring, there are no excuses. Decarie showed and proved; Perez didn’t.
Decarie has a fan-friendly style and would make good fights with anyone at welterweight. I doubt he gets a name opponent next, but he’s earned another invite back from HBO. From the man himself on his breakout victory:
I feel awesome. We had a great training camp. The right hand was something we worked on. I knew I could land the right and once I started landing it I knew I could hurt him. I give a lot of credit to Alex for taking the fight. This was the outcome we expected. I’m ready for any welterweight in the world and I can’t wait to be back on HBO.
VIC DARCHINYAN UD10 LUIS DEL VALLE
I sure didn’t see this coming. With Darchinyan having subpar performances in his last two bouts at 118 pounds, the thought of him still being effective at super bantamweight seemed slim. Instead of young Luis Del Valle having his coming out party, the 36-year-old took him to the School of Hard Knocks… literally. Over 10 mostly one-sided rounds, the Raging Bull strafed Del Valle with straight lefts, uppercuts and jarring right hooks. In addition, Darchinyan made sure to add in headbutts, forearms and other sneaky fouls to keep Del Valle out of sorts and reckless in his attacks. The only thing that saved Del Valle from getting KO’d is his size, as he’s previously competed as high as featherweight.
Del Valle critics and fans can look at this as a learning experience that’ll make him better, or that we’ve seen his ceiling in that he was soundly beaten by a 36-year-old whose best days were at super flyweight. I’m more inclined to lean towards the former, as the Raging Bull has proved to be one of the more resilient fighters in boxing. Just when you think Darchinyan is finished, he kicks somebody’s ass. Darchinyan:
I’m back. I feel good at this weight; I feel strong. I worked very hard. He’s a tough kid. I just felt I was in a different class than him.
For his part, Del Valle has no excuses and admitted he let Darchinyan set the tempo early and get him out of sorts.
I’m disappointed. He’s extremely awkward. I let him impose his style and he got his confidence early. Every time I went inside, he held me. My hat’s off to him. He was the better man tonight.
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ TKO8 JASON ESCALERA
My god, this was a thorough beatdown. Escalera can punch, but aside from that his skillset is lacking in counter-punching, footwork and speed, attributes essential at the elite level. Rodriguez delivered an absolute shellacking the opening round that was more than enough to score it 10-8. From there, he took his foot off the gas and turned Escalera into target practice. Several hard punches sent Escalera’s mouthpiece flying in different rounds.
The last rounds saw Escalera getting badly rocked by every Rodriguez hook. Referee Steve Smoger was very close to calling the fight in the seventh, but Rodriguez was feeling himself and taunted Escalera after wobbling him instead of delivering the coup de grace. What finally ended the massacre was the umpteenth left hook to Escalera that busted open his cauliflowered left ear.
Escalera’s corner should have pulled him before it even got to that point; the tough Union City, New Jersey native had some years shaved off his career with that beating. Rodriguez, who put on a massive 20 pounds after making the super-middleweight limit of 168 pounds, clearly needs to be fighting at 175 minimum. Rodriguez made it a point to name two fighters for his wish list.
I was surprised he got out of the first round. He’s definitely a strong kid; tough with raw power but easy to predict. We want any of the top 10 guys, definitely (Kelly) Pavlik. I wanted to send a message and I think my performance speaks for itself.
Promoter Lou DiBella added another name to the list.
That was the offensive machine Edwin can be that you didn’t see against Donovan George. He fought a tough kid with an iron chin. He’s ready for Pavlik at 168, or (Lucian) Bute or (Jean) Pascal at 175. I hope HBO brings us the biggest fight because Edwin is ready to step up and be a star.
When I interviewed Pavlik a few months ago, he told me his interest was in the winner of the Martinez-Chavez Jr. showdown. With both of those guys likely to be out with injuries and drug suspensions, a Rodriguez fight would be a nice alternative. Pascal still has unfinished business with Tavoris Cloud once he comes back from injury, and Bute has his sights focused on a Froch rematch (probably after an easy comeback fight).