Australia's newest stealth fighter
IT is lunchtime on Thursday and Vic Darchinyan is cutting through
the busy Martin Place crowd with the swagger of a world champion, all
bling and bravado.
He might only stand 166cm, but with a $40,000 diamond-encrusted ring
on his left hand and a heavy golden boxing glove dangling around his
neck, you can't miss him.
Or so we thought. If this were Danny Green or Kostya Tszyu, there
would be cameras whirring and a mob lined up for autographs. But for
Darchinyan, it's a different story. Despite recently making the short
list for the prestigious Laureus world sportsman of the year award, he
is just another face lost in the hustle and bustle of cafes, buskers and
After a few minutes, a lone well-wisher rushes to congratulate the IBF,
WBA and WBC super-flyweight title-holder. Darchinyan smiles and thanks
him. No one else does so much as a double-take. It's some reception for
a fighter on the cusp of greatness. Consider this. Darchinyan holds
multiple titles, has amassed more than $5million and is one of the
hottest properties for US television giant, Showtime.
In his native homeland of Armenia, or neighbouring Russia, he is feted
by politicians and sponsored by oil barons. By rights, when you stack up
the six world titles from his 34 professional fights - this wrecking
ball is entitled to be strolling around on his own planet.
Yet, in Sydney, he's so far under the radar he hardly registers a blip.
"You know, it doesn't bother me,'' Darchinyan said. "I can walk around
in Sydney and not so many people know who I am, but when I'm overseas
it's another story. In Armenia or Russia, everybody wants a piece of me.
"Even in the States, the same. Yes, Australia is my home and I love
it. But if people don't recognise me, it's OK. I'm happy.''
If the Australian public could see inside Darchinyan's private
gymnasium at Chiswick, this story could have a totally different slant.
The image of a 56kg pocket rocket bench-pressing double his body weight
would be enough to command respect from the most hardened gym-junkies.
Not since Marrickville Mauler Jeff Fenech has an Australian boxer tried
to win belts in three weight divisions. This is Darchinyan's next
challenge. Stepping up from super-flyweight to bantamweight, he will
meet IBF title-holder Joseph Agbeko in Miami on July 11.
Nicknamed "King Kong'', Darchinyan will need every ounce of dynamite in
his left hand to knock out Agbeko. If the Aussie southpaw wins, entry
into boxing's hall of fame beckons.
From there, the fighters Darchinyan wants to face is scary. Filipino
Manny Pacquiao and Mexican Israel Vazquez, who are regarded as two of
the best in the business, head the list.
If Darchinyan meets and beats these guys, the rest of Australia will
have to take notice.
Even in the tough school of Martin Place on a Thursday afternoon.
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