By Derek Bonnett
The Saturday, May 31 boxing card at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Resort in Macao, Macao, S.A.R., China featured an impressive ensemble of featherweight match-up which looked to be real barn-burners on paper. It was a boxing fan’s dream with all the right names falling onto one bill, but the action which ensued come fight night hardly rivaled what was conjured by the imagination before the respective opening bells. Nevertheless, it was all bad, it just didn’t produce the seesaw battles one might have anticipated.
In the chief supporting bout, Jamaica’s Nicholas Walters, one WBA 126 pound titlist, scored his most recognizable win to date and, probably, his most impressive when he thrice dropped Vic Darchinyan to defend his belt for the second time. Darchinyan tried his best to be awkwardly effective and, even for the modern "Raging Bull", he was extremely awkward working his way in with bizarre feints and jerky motions with his arms. Walters found his first big opening mid-way through the second when he decked Darchinyan with a right uppercut just as Vic crouched on the inside. The Armenian two-division champion rose quickly, but could do little to overcome the eight inch reach advantaged possessed by the champion.
Walters, known as "Axe Man", worked his way through the third and fourth rounds keeping control of the more experienced veteran fighter, but establishing himself as a solid pro as well. Walters used his legs well to step back as Darchinyan charged in, often leaving the Armenian swatting at the air and in position to be countered with a strong shots to the body and head.
Halfway through the fifth, Nicholas stepped to the side as Darchinyan charged him and disconnected the former champion’s sense with a tight left hook. Darchinyan wobbled and fell back on his heels into the ropes where the champion moved in for the kill. A body shot and a follow-up chopping left put Darchinyan down for the second time. Unwisely, Darchinyan rose quickly; the end appeared imminent. Darchinyan never found his legs and Walters moved in for the final touches. The end was prolonged by some wobbly movement on the part of the challenger and some wild, missing shots from the champion. Eventually, a perfect left hook caught Darchinyan on the chin to force him to the canvas for the third in final time for what will likely be a candidate for Knockout of the Year. The fight was waved off without a count at the 2:22 mark.
Walters, 28, lifted his ledger to 24-0 (20) and positioned himself for one of the bigger names in the featherweight division, possibly one of the men fighting on the same fight bill. Darchinyan, 38, hung around at featherweight one fight longer than he should have, but a title fight is a title fight. His days are numbered, but a return to the 122 or 118 pound division would be in his best interest should he fight on. Darchinyan’s resume sank to 39-7-1 (28).
In the main event, Nonito Donaire and Simpiwe Vetyeka fought a third of the proposed rounds before end up in a technical decision. The first two rounds were fought competitively and were possibly split evenly among the two men. However, it was a clash of heads in the opening stanza which ended up being the most conclusive points of contact in the short affair. Donaire bled freely from a cut to his left eyelid for most of the remaining nine minutes. Several subsequent clashes of heads caused the bleeding to worsen and Donaire was thrice brought to the ringside doctor for review. This bout was clearly going to be ruled a technical draw or go to the cards early.
Donaire took command in the third and started showing more movement than we had previously seen in his most recent stalking efforts with Darchinyan and Guillermo Rigondeaux. The fourth round was the most hotly contested three minutes, but Donaire separated himself from Vetyeka with a perfectly timed left hook which dropped the champion hard on his backside. Vetyeka gamely rose, but the damage was done and the bout was only moments away from being stopped due to the injury.
The referee called an end to the bout and allowed for the fifth round to begin before it was officially over. The three judges favored Donaire 49-46 across the board awarding him the WBA featherweight title or the "Super" variety, if you prefer. Donaire, 31, was not pleased with the way the fight ended and he half-heartedly accepted the title with the promise of a rematch. He raised his record to 33-2 (21). Vetyeka’s short, but impressive streak came to an end as he fell to 26-3 (16).
Also on the card, Evgeny Gradovich rose from a sixth round knockdown to retain his IBF featherweight title against Alexander Miskirtchian by scores of 118-110 and 117-111 twice. Gradovich, 27, retained his title for the third time and moved his record to 19-0 (9). Miskirtchian dipped to 24-3-1 (9).
In other action, Chris Avalos, 24, scored a super bantamweight victory over Yasutaka Ishimoto by forcing a TKO at :44 of the eighth round. Avalos lifted his dossier to 24-2 (18).
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