Darchinyan determined to upend Agbeko, seize another title
By Dan Rafael
Darchinyan aims to take new division by storm
When Vic Darchinyan is ready to fight, there are a few things you can count on. He'll be in great shape, he'll be ultra-confident and he'll make bold predictions of pain and punishment for his opponent.
It's been no different as Darchinyan prepares to face Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/PT). The one big difference, however, is that Darchinyan will be moving up to a new weight class to challenge for a title in his third division.
Darchinyan, a former flyweight titlist known as "Raging Bull," became the first fighter in the 29-year history of the junior bantamweight division to unify three major belts when he destroyed Cristian Mijares, knocking him out in the ninth round in a lopsided fight in November. In February, he punished Jorge Arce before stopping him in the 11th round.
Now Darchinyan (32-1, 26 KOs), the Armenian-born Australian, aims to conquer the bantamweight division, where Agbeko (26-1, 22 KOs), a Ghana native living in New York, stands in his way.
"I can't spend my career just defending, defending, defending," Darchinyan said. "I have to move up in weight and go after more titles. I have the power to demolish anyone. I'm going to keep moving up."
New division, new weight class? No problem for Vic Darchinyan.
As usual, the brash Darchinyan is confident that the transition to a new division won't be a problem.
"I'll be ready and I'll be stronger at 118," Darchinyan said. "Agbeko will feel my power, I promise you. He's not too much bigger than me. This will be no difference for me at all. All of my sparring partners were bigger than him."
Darchinyan is confident he'll score another big knockout.
"I'm going to give him a lesson and knock him out," he said. "I'm going to play with him and destroy him. I'll start throwing bombs in the middle rounds. I'll knock him out before the end of the 12th. Every boxer should go for the KO. I seek excitement only. I want to be exciting. I want to be one of the best in the history of boxing. That means I go for the knockout.
"I'm going to take it easy early and slow him down. I'm going to make him look stupid and knock him out."
Agbeko, however, is a tough customer. His only loss, a majority decision to Wladimir Sidorenko in Germany in 2004, was controversial. Even Darchinyan believes Agbeko won it.
"I know you are a good fighter," Darchinyan said to Agbeko during a media conference call promoting the fight. "I saw your fight against Sidorenko. You were robbed in Germany. I feel you never lost. You won that fight. I love it when my opponents have never lost."
Of course, after the compliment, Darchinyan, whose lone loss came via a one-punch fifth-round knockout to Nonito Donaire in 2005, got on Agbeko's case again, saying "I think after this fight they are going to change my opponent's name [from 'King Kong'] to Joseph 'Chimpanzee' Agbeko. This is going to be the biggest mismatch. Where would you like me to hurt you most? In the body or in the face?"
Four fights after the loss to Sidorenko, Agbeko claimed a bantamweight belt with a seventh-round knockout of Luis Perez in a one-sided fight in 2007. In his only defense, he won a thrilling decision against William Gonzalez in December.
He sounded ready to fight and a bit weary of Darchinyan's mouth.
"They call him the 'Raging Bull,' Agbeko said. "I call him the 'Raging Bulls----er."
Although Agbeko, a stablemate of ex-welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey, is softer-spoken than Darchinyan, he comes off as equally confident.
"I know I'm better than Vic Darchinyan," he said. "I know he can punch. I'm really, really ready for his punches. I know he's never been on the receiving end of someone who punches like me. Vic is always talking about his power and about how he's this and that, but I've watched a couple of his fights and I never saw that power. He's always fought guys that are afraid of him and he did what he wanted with them. But in this fight I'm going to do what I want to do and beat him the way I want. I'm going to let him do whatever he wants to do in this fight, because I can do whatever he does better than him."
In the co-feature, lightweight Antonio DeMarco (21-1-1, 15 KOs) of Mexico faces Anges Adjaho (25-1, 14 KOs) of the West African nation of Benin in a title eliminator. The winner will be the mandatory challenger for titlist Edwin Valero. Also on the card, but not part of Showtime's telecast, former cruiserweight titleholders Steve Cunningham (21-2, 11 KOs) and Wayne Braithwaite (23-3, 19 KOs) meet with a mandatory shot at champion Tomasz Adamek at stake. Cunningham lost his belt to Adamek via split decision in a December brawl, one of the year's most exciting fights, and has been seeking a rematch.