Originally posted on The Queensbury Rules  |  Last updated 9/30/12

Edwin Rodriguez, Vic Darchinyan and Antonin Decarie were the winners in tonight's prospect-themed HBO Boxing After Dark triple-header from Connecticut. Though not typical HBO fare, the three fights proved interesting, if not evenly matched.


(Vic Darchinyan, left, laying into Luis Del Valle; photo credit: Ed Mullholand, HBO)

In the main event, Edwin Rodriguez (22-0) beat up on the inexperienced and overmatched Jason Escalera (13-1-1) in a super middleweight fight in which both fighter weighed as much as classic-era heavyweights.

Rodriguez surged out of the gates in the 1st round and put Escalera on his heels. He stayed that way for the entire frame, a piece of gym equipment that stood against the ropes while Rodriguez threw a dizzying array of hard combinations. If the referee had been anyone but Steve Smoger, the fight would have been over.

 But “La Bomba” let Escalera off the hook, or maybe took some time to catch his breath, through rounds 2 and 3. Nevertheless, “El Monstruo's” inexperience showed, as he repeatedly lost his mouthpiece during exchanges. The Union City supermarket clerk was on the receiving end of a low blow in the 4th, as well as all of Rodriguez' conventional weaponry.

Despite his inexperience, Escalera was unstoppably game. For a while in rounds 5 and 6 he turned it into the kind of mauling fight that would have been to his advantage, but was never in the mix. Mercifully, 12 seconds into round 8, Smoger waved off the fight, kissing Escalera on the cheek.

Rodriguez called out Kelly Pavlik in his post fight interview, and I can't say I object. Both super middleweights have their limitations and it would be a logical next step for Pavlik. After only 14 fights, Escalera really wasn't ready for this step up, but after his gutsy performance, I'd be happy to see him back on ShoBox or Friday Night Fights to get some more seasoning.

I don't know if Puerto Rican junior featherweight prospect Luis Orlando Del Valle (16-1) knew what a fight with Australia's Vic Darchinyan (38-5-1) would be like going in. The rest of us did. The “Raging Bull” hit Del Valle with everything and the kitchen sink - - left hands, right hook, ambidextrous uppercuts, elbows, forearms, shoulders and, of course, his head.

HBO's Roy Jones, Jr. said during the 3rd round that Del Valle needed to get Darchinyan's respect. Fat chance. It was a spiteful brawl from start to finish. To his credit, “Orlandito” never complained about Darchinyan's extra-curricular activites, despite a cut on the bridge of his nose from a headbutt and a mug that swelled consistently throughout the fight.

The early rounds were all the same story; Darchinyan landing punches from strange angles and then boring in with his head. In the 6th, Darchinyan authentically hurt Del Valle for the first time, but Del Valle was game, firing back with combos.

With Darchinyan well ahead, Dell Valle landed a miraculous right hand-left hook combination in the 9th that had the Armenian expat wobbled. But the boy from Bayamon couldn't get Darchinyan out of there and went back to being the victim in the 10th and final round.

The easy unanimous decision, by scores of 99-91 twice and 96-94, went to Darchinyan, who will probably continue be bring his villainous weirdness to a boxing rings for the foreseeable future. Dell Valle's late round 9 surge somewhat salvages his status as a prospect to watch after what was, realistically, a beatdown. Dell Valle can at least count himself lucky that the fight took place at junior featherweight and not a few divisions south, where Darchinyan had fight-ending power.

In the opening bout of the telecast, Quebec welterweight Antonin Decarie (27-1) had the better of Newark's Alex Perez (16-1), pot-shotting and eventually knocking him out in the 6th round. Decarie dominated Perez, who seemed hesitant throughout.

The 1st round was largely uneventful, though Decarie put Perez in a neutral corner and landed a hard left hook towards the end of the round. The story of the next couple of rounds was Perez giving up his three inch height advantage. It seemed Decarie couldn't miss the Jersey Southpaw with his right, and he alternated targeting the head and body. In the 4th Perez had a moment of success with a hard right uppercut that forced Decarie to stand and trade briefly, but Decarie was back to old tricks in the 5th

Perez was the victim in an orthodox-southpaw textbook master class, eating lead right hands all night. Once Decarie was confident with that punch, he unleashed his left hook in the 6th, badly hurting Perez, who was looking out for yet another right. Decarie pursued Perez across the ring as he tottered, putting him down and nearly through the ropes with a right handed push, the ref took up the count and it was all over for “The Brick City Bullet.”

Decarie puts himself in the welterweight mix with a skilled and relatively exciting performance, while Perez, never a name to begin with, won't be in huge demand after a lukewarm showing.

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