Darchinyan Promises to Crush Arce, Targets Vazquez
Interview by Anthony Cocks, DoghouseBoxing.com (Jan 27, 2009) Photo © Tom Casino/SHOWTIME  
It’s been almost four years in the making, but on February 7th undisputed junior bantamweight champion Vic Darchinyan will finally get his chance to add one of the biggest scalps to his resume when he battles hard-nosed Mexican brawler Jorge Arce at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

Although the fight is a little overdue, the pairing of two walk-up, power punching pressure fighters has fight fans drooling over what promises to be an action-packed slugfest.

Darchinyan’s desire to face Arce 51-4-1 (39) first surfaced in 2005 when the popular veteran twice defeated Darchinyan’s stablemate Hussein Hussein. The first bout was a fight of the year candidate, but it was the two round drubbing in the rematch that really fuelled Darchinyan’s desire for revenge.

“Since 2006 I wanted to fight him,” said Darchinyan. “I followed him everywhere, to Mexico, to America when he fought there. I wanted to fight him but he never took the fight. And finally when he found out I was moving up two different weight divisions he challenged me. He thought I was going to say ‘no, no, I’m going to a different weight division’. I told him no, I’m going to fight him or else I’m going to move up. Finally this happened, beautiful, and I am going to show who’s the better fighter in the ring. And I 100% know I’m going to demolish him and knock him out.”

Even still, Darchinyan concedes he won’t be entering the ring looking for an early night.

“I’m not thinking like that,” admitted Darchinyan, 31-1-1 (25). “If I think that I’m going to be more powerful than him I can’t be concentrating on the fight. In my mind I know he’s a great fighter and I’m going to be focused on my training, that’s what it’s about. You have to be focused on the fight and concentrate on your training. I’ve already done nearly 120 rounds of sparring. Even today I did eight rounds before the press conference. I’m ready, on fight day I’m going to be very fit and very confident to win the fight.”

Darchinyan’s absolute belief in his God-given power has fight fans divided. While some admire his ability to back up his words, others view his big talking as a sign of arrogance. It’s fair to say that half of the fans turning up live or tuning in on TV will be watching in the hope of seeing Darchinyan get knocked out, but the 33-year-old two division titlist remain unfazed by the prospect of a hostile crowd.

“I know the place is going to be full of Mexicans,” said Darchinyan. “I know they’re going scream for him and they are going boo me. There’s also going to be a big crowd of Armenians, but I know the Mexicans will be much more, maybe two or three times more. I fought already many times in front of my opponents’ crowd. I love it having the crowd against me because I can concentrate more on the fight. And about him I know he is a great warrior and comes with a big punch, he going to stand in front of me and throw big punches and I’m going to be ready for everything. I’m going to be a much better fighter than him and a bigger puncher and I know that 2009 is my year. I’m going to demolish all my opponents this year.”

2007 was a bad year for Darchinyan. After his disastrous knockout loss at the hands of unheralded Filipino Nonito Donaire in July, he made the decision to move up in weight. Darchinyan’s road to redemption began with a confidence building win over Filipino journeyman Federico Catubay, followed by a disputed twelve round draw against Z Gorres in the Philippines in February 2008. Despite not getting the win, the result of that bout was enough to warrant a shot at IBF junior bantamweight Dimitri Kirilov. The stocky Russian was strangely passive as Darchinyan put on a five round clinic of power boxing.

The victory set up an intriguing unification bout with the highly credentialed Cristian Mijares – the last man to defeat Arce and The Ring’s #7 pound-for-pound boxer at the time. A short-priced favourite going in to the fight, the common theory was that Mijares would give Darchinyan a boxing master class. Unfortunately for Mijares, Darchinyan refused to read the script.

In clearly the biggest win of his eight year pro career, Darchinyan surprised Mijares with his handspeed and angles from the first bell, dropping the WBC and WBA champion in the opening round with a vicious left uppercut. Darchinyan continued the beating for nine rounds, battering the befuddled Mijares from pillar to post as he outboxed, out-fought and out-thought the premier boxer in the 115-pound weight class.

It was a win that had Darchinyan telling the press ‘I told you so’.

“That’s what I said at the press conference,” said Darchinyan. “I told them ‘guys, go back and look at my amateur career’. I used to be a very good boxer. In the amateurs you can’t rely on a big punch because you’ve only got three rounds. If you just try and use your big punch someone very skilful is going to beat you.

“I told them I am going to do to Mijares what you expect him to do to me. If you think he’s smarter, I’m going to outsmart him. If you think he’s going to throw lots of punches, I’m going to throw more than him. Everything I said, I delivered. I had a good amateur background and I can be very smart if I want to be and that’s what I showed. I went in a very big underdog, but I didn’t accept that. I demolished him, I played with him, I did whatever I wanted to with him.”

Despite becoming the first man ever to unify the junior bantamweight division recognition has been slow in coming for Darchinyan, who has a stellar record of 9-1 (8) in world title fights. The Ring still only ranks Darchinyan at number 18th in their list of top 100 fighters.

“I became undisputed champion in 2008 and I’m looking forward to an even better year this year,” said Darchinyan of his achievements over the past twelve months. “Like you said, 2008 was a very good year for me. I became the first ever undisputed champion in this weight division and I believe I’ll go undefeated in 2009. I want to be a multi-division champion. I’m open to fights at bantamweight, super bantamweight. I want to fight the world champions in these weight divisions.”

And this is where it gets interesting for Darchinyan, who has repeatedly stated his desire to fight the best in and around his weight class since before he even held a world title.

“I don’t want to go to bantamweight to be ranked number 10, number 7, number 1,” he said of his future plans. “I want to go right for the title. I don’t want to stay and defend my title. If no-one wants to unify in the first few months, I want to jump up. That’s why I’m looking for multiple world championships in different weight divisions. I don’t want to stop like I did at flyweight to defend my titles, I want unification. I just want to fight for belts. That’s what I want.”

The primary target for Darchinyan is super bantamweight powerhouse Israel Vazquez who – like Darchinyan – toiled away for years without receiving due recognition. It wasn’t until his thrilling trilogy with Rafael Marquez in 2007-08 that 31-year-old Mexican finally achieved the plaudits he deserved.

A win over Vazquez would launch Darchinyan as a genuine superstar of the sport. A big ask perhaps, but the plucky Armenian-born Australian is typically confident when asked how his style would mesh with his former sparring partner.

“I like sparring Vazquez because he’s a very good fighter too,” said Darchinyan. “He’s not scared of a big punch. Sometimes I can feel I get a big punch on him but he’s not scared to come back and throw punches at me.

“If the fight happens, I think it will be a very exciting fight and I hope this is going to happen in 2009. I’m looking forward to a good fight. Like you said I’ve been with him in sparring and know I can handle his power. I am confident and I feel that I am more powerful than him.”

For now though, Darchinyan has to deal with Arce. And with all the bad blood between the two over the years, there’s really only one guarantee: an exciting, pier six brawl that will have fight fans on the edge of their seats.

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