Sydney MX (Australia)
May 4, 2006 Thursday
SYD Edition

TAKE IT ON DARCHINYAN

So good is Australia's latest boxing import that his rivals are
running scared to higher weight divisions, as BEN BLASCHKE reports



Vic Darchinyan stands less than 167cm and smiles like an astronaut
in outer space, but walk into his left hand and there's no doubt who
will be seeing stars.

The Armenian-born world champion is today's version of the smiling
assassin - a lean, mean punching machine with a ruthless streak that
belies his otherwise amicable nature.

"I read the other day that I'm the hardest puncher pound for pound
and I love it," he said this week in his best broken English.

"I know I can hit hard. It's not (just) pleasure knocking people
out - I love it. I love entering the ring. I feel a bit sorry for
my opponent.

"The last one (Diosdado Gabi) - in one punch I broke his chin, one
punch knockout. It's good."

Did he have any contact with Gabi afterwards?

"No I didn't have any contact with him," Darchinyan said.

"The next day I saw him and his chin was already (indicates swollen
face) ... I feel sorry for him, but what can I do? If I don't punch
him he'll punch me back."

Clearly, Darchinyan - the IBF world flyweight champion makes no
apologies for the havoc he wreaks.

Unbeaten in 25 fights - 20 by knockout - he will be looking to add
to his already imposing record when he faces Mexican slugger Luis
Maldonado in Las Vegas next month. And he has the same fate planned
for the veteran Maldonado.

"He is undefeated and has 25 knockouts, but I know I will do the job
and I know I will knock him out," Darchinyan said.

Following in the footsteps of his predecessor Kostya Tszyu, who
emigrated to Australia from Russia in 1991 and went on to unite the
belts in the junior welterweight division, Darchinyan is quickly
forging a fierce reputation in the name of his new homeland after
becoming Australia's sole world champion two years ago.

Trained by three-time world champ Jeff Fenech, he has obliterated
all before him since returning permanently after the Sydney Olympics
and is already tipped to go down as one of the greatest of all Aussie
fighters.

"Without doubt he's the best flyweight in the world right now and
soon he'll unify the titles," Fenech predicted, looking ahead to
potential bouts with WBA champ Lorenzo Parra and WBC holder Pongsaklek
Wonjongkam.

"He can punch up three or four weight divisions - he's right up with
the best of them."

Of more concern to Darchinyan is where to go from here.

A recent trip to Mexico to take on highly rated local Jorge Arce was
supposed to set him up for a run through the division, but instead
exposed Darchinyan's greatest hurdle - fear.

"I challenged him, but he didn't take my fight - he moved up a weight
division. He doesn't want to fight me," Darchinyan said.

"I don't think people are running scared - I know they're scared.

Why don't they want to fight me?

I'm not the challenger, I am champion. They have to fight me to get
my belt, but they still won't fight me.

"I'll challenge (Arce) again and if he still doesn't want to fight
me I'll jump up too because no one wants to fight me in my weight
division.

"I want to go up, I want to show everyone I am strong - in any weight
division."