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Yamanaka vs Darchinyan: Contract Finalized, WBC Title Fight Set For Tokyo

Vic Darchinyan will attempt to bounce back from a lopsided loss to Anselmo Moreno when he faces Shinsuke Yamanaka in April. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Vic Darchinyan will attempt to bounce back from a lopsided loss to Anselmo Moreno when he faces Shinsuke Yamanaka in April. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

As we mentioned on Monday, a fight between WBC bantamweight titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka and Vic Darchinyan will go down in April in Tokyo. Promoter Gary Shaw says that everything is finalized for the fight, which will see Darchinyan chase a title at 118 pounds for the third time.

"Contracts have been signed, sealed and delivered. The fight is finalized and will take place in Tokyo, Japan sometime in April," said Shaw.

The promoter is confident that his fighter will get the job done this time around.

"Nothing makes me more proud than having a throwback fighter like Darchinyan, who will take risks and step in the ring with anyone, anywhere. Yamanaka will be defending his belt in his native land so Vic's got to go in there and put it on him. I believe Darchinyan's power punching style will lead him to victory."

Darchinyan (37-4-1, 27 KO) has found the waters a bit choppy in the bantamweight division, going 3-3 in six fights at 118 pounds, and 0-2 in title fights. His wins over Eric Barcelona and Evans Mbamba were no-brainers, stay-busy fights designed to keep him sharp, but he was competitive in losses to Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares in 2009 and 2010, and only his December loss to Anselmo Moreno really made him look bad.

Two things have happened with Darchinyan as he's aged and gone up in weight. One, he's definitely not the power puncher at bantamweight that he was as a flyweight or super flyweight. Those three little pounds genuinely have made a difference. None of his three wins at the weight have come by stoppage, though it can be very easily argued that he would have ended things against Yonnhy Perez last April had a cut not sent the fight to technical decision after five rounds.

And two, he's lost a lot of the aura he had when he was smashing everyone at flyweight. Ever since he was devastatingly knocked out by Nonito Donaire in 2007 for his first career loss, Darchinyan just hasn't had the same vibe, even at his best, and he's remained a very good, top-level fighter.

At 36, Darchinyan has already stayed in the race longer than the vast majority of lower weight fighters, and he's looking forward to the fight with Yamanaka.

"I'm extremely pleased with the WBC's decision to give me another title shot. I've fought and defended the WBC title with honor and pride. I love everything the WBC stands for because I believe they know I'm a true warrior and will leave everything in the ring when I go to battle," said Darchinyan.

"Capturing a world championship in three divisions has been a goal of mine since I won my first belt. I know I have what it takes to be champion at bantamweight."

* * * * *

This is nothing to do with the fight, so I'm adding it as a special extra section here, because I think this is actually kind of interesting.

"There's no doubt about it, Vic is a future Hall of Famer," Gary Shaw said. "In his era, he fought the best that was out there. He's never been in a boring fight. His style has always been crowd pleasing and you'll never see any quit in him, ever. He'll get my vote for the Hall of Fame when that time comes. Vic's got plenty of fight left in him and come April, you'll know why he's one of the best prize fighters of his time."

My knee-jerk reaction was, as I'm sure it will be for many, that no, Vic Darchinyan is not a Hall of Famer. And maybe he's not -- there's certainly some doubt about it, despite Shaw's statement.

But Shaw isn't really stretching the truth here. Darchinyan doesn't have boring fights. And he has fought good competition, consistently. Darchinyan is no big star, but what flyweights are big stars? He's been a familiar face on Showtime, which is more an achivement for Shaw than Vic in some ways, but if Darchinyan weren't an exciting, explosive, crowd-pleasing fighter he wouldn't have had all those main events, either.

Does Darchinyan have a decent case for the Hall of Fame?

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