Michael Rosenthal and Doug Fischer

RING PASS: Comprehensive preview of bantamweight tournament



The essentials

Age: 35

Height / Reach: 5-5½ (166cm) / 64½ (164cm)

Stance: Southpaw

Hometown: Sydney, Australia (from Vanadzor, Armenia)

Nickname: Raging Bull

Turned pro: 2000

Record: 35-3-1 (27 knockouts)

Trainer: Vazgen Badalian

Fight-by-fight: Click here

The Ring rating: No. 8 bantamweight.

Titles: IBF flyweight (2004-07, lost it to Nonito Donaire); IBF junior bantamweight (2008-2009; vacated), WBA and WBC junior bantamweight (2008-10; vacated both).

Biggest victories: Irene Pacheco, Dec. 16, 2004, TKO 11 (wins IBF flyweight title); Dmitri Kirillov, Aug. 2, 2008, KO 5 (wins IBF junior bantamweight title); Cristian Mijares, Nov. 1, 2008, KO 9 (wins WBA and WBC junior bantamweight titles);

Losses: Nonito Donaire, July 7, 2007, TKO 5 (loses IBF flyweight title); Joseph Agbeko, July 11, 2009, UD 12 (Showtime tournament); Abner Mares, Dec. 11, 2010, SD 12 (Showtime tournament).

Draw: Z Gorres, Feb. 2, 2008, D 12.

Biography: Darchinyan has been one of the most-feared little fighters in recent years, a fierce warrior with crushing power and an awkward style that drives his opponents crazy. He also is a former two-division titleholder, making him one of the Armenian-born fighters ever.

He was born in Vanadzor in what was then part of the Soviet Union. He was an accomplished amateur, reportedly going 158-18 for his native country. He competed in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, losing in the quarterfinals to eventual silver medalist Bulat Jumadilov of Kazakhstan.

Darchinyan moved to Australia shortly after the Olympics and turned pro in November 2000. He quickly became a dominating flyweight, earning a shot at Irene Pacheco’s IBF 112-pound title in December 2004. He put Pacheco down twice and won by an 11th-round TKO, his first of four major belts.

He successfully defended his title six times (five by KO), leading to his seventh defense against talented prospect Nonito Donaire in July 2007. Donaire shocked Darchinyan and the world when he ended a close fight with a devastating left hook at 1:38 of the fifth round, the Armenian’s first loss.

Darchinyan bounced back quickly, stopping Dmitry Kirillove in five rounds only three fights after the Donaire disaster to win the IBF junior bantamweight title. He then stopped highly regarded Cristian Mijares in nine rounds in a title-unification bout, giving him three of the four major 115-pound titles.

Then came the next surprise in Darchinyan’s career, a unanimous-decision loss to Ghanaian Joseph Agbeko that cost him his IBF title. He successfully defended his other two belts twice more before vacating them and becoming a bantamweight.

Darchinyan would have his opportunity to prove he could find success in his third division when he agreed to take part in Showtime’s four-man bantamweight tournament. He lost a controversial split decision to Abner Mares in the first round, however, a pbitter disappointment. Afterward, he complained of an overly intrusive referee and a bad decision but ultimately he had to move on.

Next up is Yonnhy Perez, who lost to Agbeko in his first-round fight. They meet on April 23 in a the tournament consolation immediately before Mares fights Agbeko for the championship.

Darchinyan has vowed to take matters out of the hands of the officials by reverting to his take-no-prisoners style, promising a knockout. It will be fun to watch the fiery little warrior no matter what happens, which is always the case with him.

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