Darchinyan to make third title defense at 112
Vic Darchinyan (24-0, 19 knockouts) seeks to defend his 112-pound crown against Diosdado Gabi (26-2-1, 19) of the Philippines in Santa Ynez, Calif., on Friday.
Flyweight champ Vic Darchinyan is from Armenia and lives in Australia, but now the pint-sized powerhouse is ready to conquer America.
Darchinyan (24-0, 19 KOs) will make the third defense of his 112-pound crown against Diosdado Gabi (26-2-1, 19) of the Philippines at the Chumash resort in Santa Ynez, Calif., on Friday night (11 ET/PT) in the main event of Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" card.
With his aggressive, power-punching style, Darchinyan is one of the biggest hitters in the smaller weights, and he is determined to make his mark in the United States.
"I am perfectly comfortable with my power and America is the best place you can show your power," said Darchinyan, who arrived in the U.S. last week to get used to the time change. "I am here and I am very happy, and I think when I fight here, everyone will love my style."
It's a style that trainer Jeff Fenech, the Australian legend and Hall of Famer, loved from the minute he first saw Darchinyan fight in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney as a representative for Armenia.
"I am very, very confident I have the hardest punching flyweight in the world," Fenech said.
Darchinyan's fan-friendly style also caught the eye of promoter Gary Shaw, who jumped at the opportunity to sign the promotional free agent last month and make the Darchinyan-Gabi fight only the second world title bout in the 72-episode history of "ShoBox." The other was between featherweight titlist Scott Harrison and Michael Brodie in 2005.
"He may be a flyweight in size, but he is a heavyweight when it comes to power and heart," Shaw said. "Vic can fight and I expect him to be a world champion for years to come."
Darchinyan's only previous bout in the U.S. came in December 2004, when he knocked out long-reigning champion Irene Pacheco in the 11th round to win the title.
In his first two defenses, Darchinyan, 30, knocked out South African contender Mzukisi Sikali in the eighth round and Jair Jimenez of Colombia in the fifth to run his KO streak to six.
Darchinyan is planning to extend the streak to seven against fellow southpaw Gabi, a 26-year-old who has never been stopped.
"If he does not run from me, then it will be a first-round knockout," Darchinyan said.
If you believe Freddie Roach, Gabi's trainer, he won't run from Darchinyan at all.
"We respect the champion's punching power, but I can assure you 100 percent that Gabi is not going to run from him," Roach said. "He is motivated and not afraid of Darchinyan. Gabi is not going to lie down and give up the title [opportunity] without giving it everything he has.
"We had great sparring and we got some big punchers because we know Vic is a very big puncher and a very good champion, and a big favorite going into the fight. But Gabi is in great shape and I feel an upset."
Darchinyan hopes a win over Gabi will set him up for significant future business in the U.S.
"My goal is to unify the belts and to fight the best," he said. "Since I won the title, I have had four fights either canceled or postponed. So I am excited to be fighting and defending my title again.
"After I take care of business with Gabi, I want [fellow titlist] Jorge Arce. We met face to face in El Paso [at a fight in February] and I told him I wanted to fight him."
Also on Showtime's broadcast: Anthony Mora (15-0, 10) faces Rustam Nugaev (15-4, 7) in a 10-round battle of lightweight prospects.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.