Having built up a cult following in the U.S. via websites like YouTube, 26-year old WBA Bantamweight titlist Anselmo Moreno (32-1-1, 11 KO), 118, of San Miguelito, Panama, looked like he might be the goods. After Saturday’s unanimous decision victory, the whole world knows he’s that and more. Rare is the defensive fighter who can beat a man to the body and stay as comfortably in the pocket as Moreno does, evoking memories of the great Pernell Whitaker.
35-year old Armenian former Flyweight and Jr. Bantamweight champion Vic Darchinyan (37-4-1, 27 KO), 117 ¾, of Sydney, Australia, got a first hand chance to appreciate the rarity, soundly outboxed for most of twelve rounds by the man boxing may want to rename Guisantito Dulce.
Darchinyan rushed Moreno at the opening bell but it was the right jab of Moreno landing first. The first round would be a battle of jabs for a while, Darchinyan landing some glancing shots in close and Moreno digging to the body. A Darchinyan body shot pushed Moreno back but he struggled to land consistently.
Warmed to his task, Moreno was better offensively in round two. While Darchinyan had some eye-catching flurries, they mostly struck air while Moreno landed sharp, clean single lefts. A left from Moreno in the final minute seemed to rock Darchinyan and he had the power puncher flailing at shadows down the stretch.
A big Darchinyan left in the first minute of round three was taken well by Moreno and Darchinyan was given a chance to land it again. Moreno tattooed Darchinyan with a left uppercut just past the midway mark. A right to the head, and then the body, punctuated another frame for Moreno.
Lost for answers on how to make a head hunting approach work, Darchinyan ended the fourth round frustrated in a clinch and wound up losing a point for shoving Moreno to the floor. Darchinyan improved in the fifth, still taking some clean lefts but also taking advantage of a Moreno whose hands didn’t move much, forcing the action.
Moreno landed two hard rights to the body, took a stiff left to the chin, and nailed Darchinyan with some buckling lefts in a terse first minute. An errant low blow took the wind out of Darchinyan halfway through the round, Moreno drawing a warning from referee Raul Caiz Jr. Planting his feet as Darchinyan pressed, Moreno absorbed a Darchinyan left and hammered him back with his own and another right to the body.
Round seven was the most one-sided of the night to then, Moreno breaking into Darchinyan with body shot after body shot. He did it again in the eighth and Darchinyan was shaken early in the frame. Darchinyan showed no quit, working hard in the ninth but still missing more than landing, taking more than giving.
The danger Darchinyan always poses was evident in the tenth when a hard left momentarily froze Moreno. The Panamanian quickly composed himself and stepped right back into the fray. A left hand at the minute mark echoed off the head of Darchinyan and he’d add yet another sticking right to the body before the round was up. Darchinyan’s left eye was colored red with his difficulties on the night.
Moreno maintained control in the final two rounds, boxing like a man who knew he was on foreign turf, something Moreno has been many times before. Darchinyan shoved Moreno hard to the floor in the twelfth, a bullying tactic in place of the ability to do anything against the better man. Scores came in at a decisive 116-111, 117-110, and a shutout 120-107. BoxingScene scored the bout 117-111 for Moreno.
Moreno claimed after the fight to have felt the nerves of his first fight in the U.S. but stated, through an interpreter, he felt Darchinyan was a stupid fighter and one he could dominate. Moreno dedicated the victory to his native Panama and stated he’d like to face the winner of the night’s main event. Boxing fans grown spoiled with a rich series of bantamweight clashes in recent years would have another if Moreno-Mares occurred.
Darchinyan was gracious in defeat, stating he simply “couldn’t find him.” Darchinyan has faced almost everyone who could matter from 112 to 118 lbs. and can hold his head high knowing that history states only the very best get past him.
Moreno can hold his head in knowing the same.