Vic 'Raging Bull' Darchinyan still raging on

Vic Darchinyan has been, is, and always will be a loud trash-talker.

He's flung insults at his opponents, calling one foe a coward for refusing to stand toe-to-toe with him in the center of the boxing ring. He's said that one of his counterparts had been hit in the head so much that he was dumb. He's promised bouts that would not only end in victories, but would end the in the destruction of a challenger who dared to face him.

Darchinyan has used just about every appropriate word and saying that could be used to berate a fighter on television, in print or online.

In sum, the Armenian fighter who calls Australia his home and the Hilton Hotel in Glendale — where he trains with Glendale Fighting Club proprietor Edmond Tarverdyan — his “second home,” has done what he has had to do to promote his fights. That's what boxers do. That's what Darchinyan has always done.

He's usually backed up his words with wins, too. Many of Darchinyan's victories have come via vicious knockouts that have resulted from his all-action style that has drawn fans to see his televised fights and brought viewers to arenas to see him in person. After all, he is a former three-division champion with a 39-5-1 record with 28 knockouts.

But spend time talking to him and take additional time just looking at his interaction with strangers, kids, friends and trainers, and you'll see a 37-year-old boxer who resembles a teddy bear instead of one who is billed as a “Raging Bull.”

Darchinyan smiles, he laughs and reminisces about his past, including his titles, the limelight of fans and media, the meetings with Armenian presidents, and the 300-plus amateur and professional fights.

He talks about the parts of his life that mean the most to him: his wife and his son.

His son, Ruben, has the same name as Darchinyan's father, once a proud Olympic wrestling coach in his native Armenia who tried to steer his son toward a wrestling career before his stubborn 5-year-old decided that being a world champion in boxing would be his future.

Ruben is just 6 and has traveled with his dad to America a number of times. Darchinyan has taken his son to 11 other countries. With his dad's fighting career taking him from one continent to another, Ruben has enjoyed sight-seeing with both of his parents, but stayed back home for this trip.

Darchinyan reveals his true self when he makes another promise, not related to his chances of defeating Nonito Donaire on Saturday night live on HBO in Corpus Christi, Tex. in the rematch of their fight from 2007, when Donaire surprised Darchinyan with a fifth-round knockout, but about Ruben.

Speaking about his son not being with him, Darchinyan says, “That's not going to happen again. I haven't seen my son in two months. I am missing him too, too much.”

For a moment, the “Raging Bull” was vulnerable. Not inside a ring, but next to it, as he talked about his early days in boxing, the highlights of winning titles and the end of his career, whenever that may come.

Darchinyan's amateur record is listed as 158-18 on various sites.

He says that statistic is wrong.

“I had 320 amateur fights,” he says in his English-Australian-Armenian accent. “I had international fights.

“I was a very good amateur fighter.”

He was a busy amateur fighter, too.

As a 22 year old, he had the first of his many memorable runs, starting with a bronze medal at the European Amateur Boxing Championship in May of 1998. A month later, he took bronze at the Boxing World Cup. Another month later, he won his third bronze, this time at the Goodwill Games.

The next step could have been turning professional.

Instead, Darchinyan opted to train in Armenia so he could represent Armenia in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

“I love my country,” he proudly states.

He proudly wore the colors of Armenia's flag — the top stripe red, the middle one blue and the bottom stripe orange — in Sydney.

On Sept. 24, 2000, Darchinyan defeated Ilfat Ryazapov of Russia, 20-11, on points in the 112-pound division of the Olympics. Three days later, his Olympic stay in Australia would end after a 15-8 loss to Bulat Jumadilov of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals.

Darchinyan didn't win a medal, but he did grab notice. He had punching power, was quick on his feet and drew attention with his strong performances.

It was time to turn professional, which he did in the winter of 2000.

Darchinyan had told his dad that he would be a world champion.

Twenty-one consecutive wins — 16 by knockout — to begin his professional career earned him an opportunity to fulfill his promise, but standing in his way was International Boxing Federation flyweight champion Irene Pacheco of Colombia.

Darchinyan said he would knock out Pacheco, who had made six consecutive defenses of his title and hadn't lost in five years.

Darchinyan, then 28, knocked Pacheco down in the 10th and 11th rounds, forcing his opponent's corner to step in to stop the fight.

“I said I was going to come in and knock him out, and I did,” Darchinyan jubilantly states.

The win was the highlight of his career, Darchinyan says.

He has had plenty more high spots, though.

Darchinyan won eight titles in three weight divisions, was a former undisputed junior bantamweight champion, and won a record four International Boxing Organization titles.

Each time he fought, he's talked about knockouts because that is what drew attention.

“I look for the knockout each time,” says Darchinyan, who mentions he used to complete 2,500 push-ups a day.

The power from the southpaw's punches led him to a 28-0 record before Donaire shocked the boxing community with a knockout victory in 2007.

Since that loss, Darchinyan has gone 11-4-1. The victories have included capturing titles in the IBO bantamweight division, as well as the super bantamweight division.

The losses have led to prognostications by critics signaling the end of Darchinyan's storied career.

“It's good for me when they do that,” he says. “It has happened to me once or twice before. It motives me. I want to show them and prove to them that I am strong.”

He says he's strong enough to win titles in more weight classes.

“He's become a more focused fighter,” says Tarverdyan, who has taken over as Darchinyan's head trainer. “All of Vic's [recent] losses have been to people who did not stand up and fight with him. They ran away from him. The losses, he was a bit impatient. He knows his mistakes. He runs after them, that's why he's the ‘Raging Bull.' He has always said if they stand up in front of me and fight with me, and they beat me, I'll call it. He'll go out to retirement. Nothing like that has happened. Now he is more focused and he's learned from his mistakes.

“Fighters who want to learn will always be a good fighter.”

Tarverdyan has brought Darchinyan back to his amateur fighting days. That has meant no more 2,500 push-ups a day.

“He used to work on his upper body and nothing else,” Tarverdyan says. “That's why he would punch so big and lose his balance. His balance is not there because his legs weren't there. We've added Santa Monica stairs, we added a strength and conditioning coach. We've added swimming. His body is different. His legs are strong. He moves well.
His balance is way

Darchinyan still has dangerous and championship-caliber punching power, Tarverdyan says, but Darchinyan is also 37 in a sport that is commonly dominated by those approaching 30, not 40.

George Bastrmajyan, part owner and promoter of Lights Out Promotion who is also a good friend of Tarverdyan, says Darchinyan is not done as a fighter.

“I can't say he's at the peak of his career, but he's nowhere from being done,” Bastrmajyan says. “Vic is a very, very young 37 year old. He takes care of himself. He doesn't smoke. He doesn't drink. He takes care of his body.”

With sweat still dripping from his body after a tenuous workout, Darchinyan chuckles at the idea that his boxing career might soon be finished.

When will he retire?

“Life will show,” he says.

Possibly in two years when his new contract with Top Rank Promotions is finished, he adds.

During his career and after it, he has a goal that does not include just knockouts and more brash talk.

“I want to be an example for kids,” he says. “I want to tell kids that they can't make mistakes. They should love what they're doing.”

He has loved his career, each bit of it, from his time in Armenia to Sydney to Glendale.

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