Vic Darchinyan Does What He Loves To Do
The Hard Way.
Vic Darchinyan (39-6-1, 28KOs) is one of those fighters whose power has been an aberration of nature comparable to Goliath versus any would be opponent’s mad dream to be recreated as that one in a million David. Like the Mike Tysons and the Ruslan Provodnikovs of the world, at one time you could mistake all of their separate powers for something as immutable as a mountain but as devoid of thought as a monolith when it came to ring destruction and the wide swath of vanquished opponents in their collective wake. When Max Kellerman favorably referred to Ruslan Provodnikov as akin to a “caveman who had a spear in his hand and was frozen right before he was about to slay a saber-tooth,” the words “great strategist” did not come to mind. Popular thought is that this type of power doesn’t cohabitate with plans. After all, arguably the only plan needed in the use of such power is to simply land the shot. But maybe this is an unwarranted prejudice against the few holders of such speed, power and talent. Certainly in the case of Vic Darchinyan, this would seem to be the case. From his training grounds at the Glendale Fighting Club, in Glendale, California, it would seem that in his heart of hearts he is more avid student of boxing versus heedless mindless assassin. Indeed, you could almost call him a boxing nerd in the way that he insists upon bringing up countless references to different boxers and their styles at different points in their careers as well as how it all fits into boxing as a game of chess in his explanation of what the sport truly is for him as a profession and a passion:
DARCHINYAN: “Boxing…is not about power. It’s about mentality. You have to work out your opponent… You are attacking from one side but you knock him down from a different side…. Like it’s a game… It’s chess.”
Like a chess grand master, Darchinyan also has all of his favorite plays and forays in his mental fight rolodex, as well as his favorite masters of each style from whom he is currently watching and learning through study. There are definitely some surprises in the list due to the hard punching awkward lights out style that he is known for, such as for starters, none other than Floyd Mayweather:
DARCHINYAN: “ Floyd Mayweather. He’s not going for the knockout. He’s calm, calm…seven or eight years ago no one wanted to watch his fight. It was like amateur style, like Cuban style. Touching, moving…. I didn’t like his fights at the time. Now he’s giving lessons, you know? He’s still not going for the knockout be he’s throwing his punches and connecting much more than before.”
It would seem that of late Darchinyan’s main lesson for himself is not to be lulled into the Siren song of his own power. Instead he must remember to think before succumbing to doing what he loves to do in the ring, which is going for the knockout. It would seem that he attributes this Achilles Heel to the style on which he was raised – the Armenian fight style. To hear him tell it, the Armenian style is very similar to the Russian style. Paradoxically it was his innate understanding of this knowledge as strategy early on in his amateur career that propelled him to success in the Olympics against his iron curtain neighbors:
DARCHINYAN: “ In amateur four years in a row I beat all Russians. In world championships in Europe, everywhere… I love Russian style…. Armenians are very similar with the Russian style. I know what they are able to do, what they love to do. I’m laughing cause I’m the same. Sometimes they love to show power without any thinking. If you take them out of control and don’t let them think, you will beat them easy. If you give them the chance to think… they can do very well.”
If Darchinyan seems to understand himself and the similar psychology of the Russian fighter’s base mentality, his analyses of many other notable fight styles and individual fighters from around the world, past and present, such as Oscar De La Hoya, are equally astute and well thought out:
DARCHINYAN: “ You remember Oscar? He didn’t have any muscles in his big time… If you see his hands, he’s just timing, punching, putting together good combinations and then he wins the fight… not muscles. He’s beating the guys… boxing. They can’t touch him.”
At thirty-eight years of age, Darchinyan clearly believes that what continues to make him a viable fighter is that he never stops learning. In addition, he never makes the mistake of discriminating based on the age or source of this learning. Good fight Intel is good fight Intel no matter what the vessel:
DARCHINYAN: “It doesn’t matter how old you are. If any boxer thinks he knows everything and he’s stopped learning then he needs to retire…. Even an eighteen-year-old kid can come show me something. I love it.”
As a three-division world champion, having won eight titles in three different weight classes, Darchinyan is used to being the gorilla in the lower weight divisions. As a former IBF Flyweight Champion and a former Undisputed WBA, WBC and IBF Super Flyweight Champion, Darchinyan and his former trainer Jeff Fenech are the only Australian three Division World Champions in history. Darchinyan also has the distinction of becoming the first ethnic Armenian to ever win a World Title in 2004 by defeating the previously unbeaten Flyweight Champion Irene Pacheco by eleventh round knockout.
Darchinyan has had the luxury of being a bad bad man for many many years. However, as all good things must come to an end, in the last couple of years, with two losses by KO to boxing’ s deserved pound for pound darling Nonito Donaire (31-2, 21KOs), many would say that Darchinyan’s best days are behind him. However to listen to Darchinyan himself, this is just a mirage behind which his bigger strategy lies in wait against current opponent Nicholas Walters (23-0, 19KOs). After a step up in weight, Darchinyan is currently set to fight the younger undefeated Mr. Walters this Saturday, May 31st at the Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort in Macao, China.
DARCHINYAN: “ I think he (Walters) thinks that he’s bigger than me, and his reach is reachable – and his power. He thinks that he’s stronger than me because I am moving to a new weight division. Second fight and I’m smaller for this weight division…. before he was not taking the fight… he was scared to take the fight…. I think maybe Bob (Arum) told him, you have to take the fight if you want to get better fights…. If they pass me they can get good money.”
If it might irk some with Darchinyan’s past to find themselves newly set as a potential gatekeeper to bigger and better fights, it would seem not to bother him as he doesn’t accept the classification as anything other than a temporary inconvenience. With regard to his past losses to Nonito Donaire, Darchinyan sees himself as many see the last battles between those two other epic opponents, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. Darchinyan firmly places himself in the role of Pacquiao in this scenario where Darchinyan believes he let his love of his own power outweigh his mental preparation in going for the knockout against a weakened but still lethal adversary in Donaire in their last contest:
DARCHINYAN: “ I fought him twice, twice was stopped. People maybe think there is no point but (in) the second fight I was dominating the fight and what happened was a mistake. Like what happened with Pacquiao when he fought Marquez. He was winning the fight and he caught a big punch and he was knocked out cold…. me too. I was winning the fight and I went for the knockout and I caught the punch…. in the 2013 fight he (Nonito) won the fight by using the left hook. That’s all he did. In eight rounds, I didn’t give him a chance… I was sitting the whole fight on my left hand and he couldn’t do anything. After I hurt him in the ninth round I sat on my right leg and I wanted to take him in one punch... and I didn’t see the punch… I let him do what he loves to do… he was going to quit. After nine rounds he wanted to quit.”
But if Darchinyan understandably wants more than anything to see Donaire across the ring from him versus just the same fight card (Donaire is the main event vs. Simpiwe Vetyeka on this Saturday’s event in Macau), fighting a confident undefeated fighter in Jamaica’s undefeated Nicholas Walters comes in a very close second. Darchinyan is almost giddy in explaining why undefeated fighters are his favorite delicacy of choice when it comes to leaving it all in the ring:
DARCHINYAN: “ They come in very confident. I can use that. Any confident guy, if you hurt them they think they are too good for that…. They’re gonna keep coming and you can destroy them…. I love when an opponent is coming forward and too confident…. Good time to knock them out.”
However, if Darchinyan’s current boxing bids don’t work out as planned, or perhaps even if they do, there is always MMA and the UFC on the horizon to hear him tell it. Training at the epicenter of all things MMA at the Glendale Fighting Club and sharing fight guru Edmond Tarverdyan with MMA powerhouse Ronda Rousey, Darchinyan is in good company whichever path he decides to take. Unbelievably, if Darchiniyan had his way he would ask Bob Arum to allow him to fight in both fight universes at the same time switching at two to three month intervals:
DARCHINYAN: “ I want to even ask Bob Arum if he can let me (do both) at the same time…. If they let me do it…they give me one two months…to do all my MMA fights, I would love to…. Cause I know any opponent… no one will do boxing with me… I can punch hard… it’s not only legs, it’s not only wrestling. It’s boxing too. And the gloves are just four ounces…. I need just a small distance to crack someone’s jaw. With fourteen, fifteen-ounce gloves, I break ribs. I can break a jaw with just four-ounce gloves… I think I can destroy them… I want to try! It’s interesting for me.”
In keeping with the Vic Darchinyan style it would seem that surely whatever the outcome this Saturday in Macau, China, he should have no problem making it interesting for all of us watching stateside and around the world.
Written by Kylie Krabbe
Photo by Kylie Krabbe
May 30th 2014