Vic Darchinyan dropped to 0-3 in bantamweight title fights this morning in Japan, losing a fairly wide decision to WBC titleholder Shinsuke Yamanaka on scores of 117-111, 116-112, and 116-112. It's the second straight loss for the Armenian brawler, and without question the best win to date for the 29-year-old Yamanaka.
Darchinyan (37-5-1, 27 KO) is 36 years old and you have to wonder how much he's got left competing at the top levels. He was sorely outclassed by Anselmo Moreno in his last fight, and he's just 3-4 fighting above 115 pounds in his career, with his best win coming over a tired-looking Yonnhy Perez, who retired without ever fighting again.
Darchinyan has talked about going into MMA, and reports from Australia were that this would be his last boxing fight before venturing into that world. But MMA's lowest weight class is 125 pounds, and there's not big money in it. If it's something he wants to do for pride or just for the hell of it, and he's not expecting much financially, then he might as well, I guess -- why not? He's unlikely to become a star, though, since MMA stars are simply not that small, which isn't much different than in boxing.
But let's move on from Darchinyan and talk about Yamanaka (16-0-2, 11 KO), who now joins the upper echelon of the bantamweight division. With Abner Mares set to move out on April 21, and Nonito Donaire already gone, Anselmo Moreno is for all intents and purposes the world's No. 1 bantamweight. But after Moreno, who's to say that Yamanaka isn't now the No. 2 man? Joseph Agbeko is still out there with a stronger resume, but he's lost three of his last four (all to top fighters, but still). Yamanaka is in a position to become a serious player at 118, even if that means staying at home, because the American TV world is nearly out of the division, basically, at least in the short-term.
Takahiro Aoh (23-2-1, 10 KO) retained his WBC super featherweight title with a 12-round decision win over Thailand's Terdsak Kokietgym, formerly known as Terdsak Jandaeng (you may recall the tough, sturdy Terdsak from losses to Juan Manuel Marquez, Joan Guzman, or Steven Luevano). Aoh, 28, won on scores of 116-112, 116-112, and 118-110, the latter of which was called too wide by Jake Donovan of BoxingScene.com, who said it was a "sensational battle."
Also on the card, former 118- and 126-pound titleholder Hozumi Hasegawa came back to the ring, stopping untested Mexican Felipe Carlos Felix in the seventh round. Hasegawa improves to 30-4 (13 KO), and was fighting at featherweight again. At 31, he wants to stay in the game, and he can still box. It's a question of how good a fighter he can beat at 126.