â€œFISTIC FIREWORKSâ€ HIGHLIGHTED BY UPSETS
It was a night of humble winners and sore losers, but that’s typical when unknown yet underrated challengers upset undefeated champions.
Of course, when a card consists of four fighters that have only one loss among them, it’s difficult to describe any result as an upset; on the contrary, for the winners, regardless of their underdog status, Don King’s doubleheader dubbed â€œFistic Fireworksâ€ was an unannounced coming out party celebrated in dramatic fashion.
The dethroned champions, on the other hand, had little to celebrate but, in their minds, plenty to argue about. Both fighters protested knockdowns, the first of their careers, and both sought rematches that are unlikely to be granted, considering the way they treated their opponents, now champions, prior to and after their respective bouts. Both men were last seen storming out of the ring in almost childish fits of anger while the elated new champions celebrated within.
ALCINE SHOCKS SIMMS IN SLOPPY FIGHT
Just when Travis Simms seemed to have finally gotten his career on track after destroying Antonio Rivera in January to become the WBA Junior Middleweight Champion, he made a rookie mistake in looking past his opponent, Joachim Alcine, in his very first defense. That mistake cost him his championship and put him right back on the outside looking in.
Turning the title defense into somewhat of a homecoming, fighting in his home state of Connecticut, Simms enjoyed the advantage of having the crowd on his side, but he felt the need to criticize Alcine, ignoring his perfect record and dubbing him a â€œglorified sparring partner.â€ On this night, the so-called sparring partner invaded the champion’s territory and got the best of him, winning a unanimous decision, and left Simms’ backyard with his belt.
Perhaps all the talk was an effort by the champion to gain a psychological advantage over an opponent he actually feared. After all, Simms had sued the WBA in order to get a shot at Rivera before Alcine, the mandatory challenger, could. Maybe Simms didn’t want to wait anymore with the window of opportunity on his career closing or maybe he knew Rivera was the easier opponent. Whatever the case, Simms next tried intimidation during the instructions, slamming his glove over Alcine’s as if it was the first punch of the fight. Unfortunately for Simms, all the effort he put in before the opening bell was irrelevant thereafter.
To his credit, Simms fought well early, taking the majority of the rather dull rounds, but he never looked comfortable, having to grab Alcine whenever the challenger got too close for his liking. His early success, it turns out, was more a result of Alcine being too cautious than anything. When Alcine finally stepped it up in round 4, the fighters got into a bitter dispute that continued after the bell and had to be separated from one another. Simms appeared a worried fighter.
Responsible for keeping the peace was Referee Mike Ortega, who had his work cut out for him in officiating the unpredictably sloppy fight, which consisted of countless infractions and a knockdown that was hard to catch but correctly called. Alcine stepped on Simms’ foot throughout the first six rounds but was later penalized for a separate infraction: hitting on the break. The point deduction was premature and, in fact, uncalled for as Alcine never really made contact with Simms; furthermore, Ortega had only begun to try to separate the fighters when Alcine swung his fist. Ortega eventually took a point away from Simms for the same reason. Simms lost another point when he was caught with a jab from Alcine that forced him onto a glove in round 9. Though he would adamantly debate the ruling long after the fight ended, the call stood, and Simms continued losing his grasp on the fight, his title and his undefeated record.
While the greater majority of the rounds were increasingly difficult to score, the judges knew who they liked throughout, awarding the fight to Alcine by a rather wide yet defensible margin. Scores of 114-111, 115-110, 116-109 reflected an unusual and, at times, chaotic fight. This viewer actually saw it in favor of Simms by one point in one of the more difficult championship fights to watch in recent memory. Neither fighter was willing to put forth a committed effort and establish himself for much of the bout, but when one stepped up to push the action, it was Alcine, who ultimately took the decision and Simms’ WBA title.
Afterward, Simms interrupted Alcine’s interview to talk to the new champion, making sure to get in over the microphone that he had injured his hand in the second round. In a disturbing display of poor sportsmanship, Simms maintained his position that Alcine was no more to him than a sparring partner and that he was still the champion in his own eyes, all the while asking Alcine for an unlikely rematch. At 36, Simms’ slip up may end up costing him a lucrative career.
As for the new champion, the first Haitian champion in boxing history, Alcine was humble in victory, admitting that he was behind early and that he knew he needed to come back to take the title. He also commended Ortega for doing a good job and admitted that the referee has a better view of the situation than either fighter during a bout. It’s hard to dislike a guy with that kind of attitude, and sometimes it takes such an individual to reveal the poor attitude of the opponent, in this case that of Travis Simms, who stormed out of the ring not long after.
DARCHINYAN GOES DOWN TO DONAIRE
Former IBF Flyweight Champion Vic Darchinyan is probably wishing he landed a fight with Jorge Arce back when it was in high demand. Instead, he continued feasting on overmatched opposition to pad his record until he finally picked the wrong little brother to mess with.
After defeating the hopeless Glenn Donaire in October, Darchinyan looked to finish off the bloodline by taking out younger but bigger brother Nonito, but this sibling was more than prepared to take what the â€œLord of the Fliesâ€ had to dish out.
Coming down from the junior bantamweight division to seek revenge, Donaire, the only fighter on the card with a loss to his name prior to fight night, was bigger and therefore better suited to take Darchinyan’s punch than was his older brother, who was floored by Darchinyan nearly a year ago before losing a technical knockout after suffering a broken jaw. Nonito also packed a bigger punch than his brother and floored Darchinyan in the fifth round.
In a strong candidate for knockout of the year, Donaire caught Darchinyan coming in for one of his sweeping left hands with a picture perfect left hook that nearly decapitated the IBF Champion, who momentarily froze before collapsing onto his back on the canvas. It was the first knockdown of Darchinyan’s career, and he was determined to get off the canvas and escape the inevitable fate that awaited him. Feeling the full effect of the monstrous shot, Darchinyan slowly but surely fought to his feet, blood pouring from his nose, and staggered into the ropes, prompting Referee Eddie Claudio to stop the fight.
While some of the action was back and forth before the knockout, Donaire was undoubtedly getting the better of Darchinyan from the start and most likely up on points. Donaire, after proving he could withstand Darchinyan’s feared left hands, had stunned and staggered the former champion with a similar left hook in round 3 to solidify an early lead.
The young Donaire was humble after his career defining victory, thanking his brother for helping him prepare and even stopping his interview to commend Darchinyan on giving him a good fight. Donaire admitted his respect for the former champion, but the exposed Darchinyan demanded that Donaire show just how much respect he had by granting him a rematch. Darchinyan, perhaps upset that the ringside doctor had forced him to lie on the canvas and receive a medical inspection following the knockout or perhaps still disoriented, proceeded to make an outrageous claim that he hadn’t been knocked down or sustained significant damage. Before long, Darchinyan marched out of the ring in anger, the myth surrounding his invincibility and whatever respectable reputation he held before dissolving more with every step.
Like Arce before him, Darchinyan has now suffered a one-sided loss and what is likely to be a significant career setback. They need each other now more than ever before.