Sunday, February 8, 2009

Vic Darchinyan and the Lethal Lefties

by Lee Payton

Vic Darchinyan beat up Jorge Arce on Saturday night and retained his Super Flyweight World Championship in the process. The proud Mexican never stopped trying to get something big in, and he actually did so from time to time, but he just couldn't find his feet in there.

In the end, Vic's special punching power and superior physical strength won him nearly every round on his way to a convincing TKO win over Arce, who is just unbelievably brave.

Darchinyan puts such a frightening beating on most of his opponents that I got to thinking about how uncommon southpaw destroyers are in boxing. How does this little Armenian assassin stack up against the great offensive lefties in recent memory?

Raphael "Bazooka" Limon was an impossibly rugged, wiry featherweight bomber, who let it all hang out as long as the fight lasted. Like Vic, Bazooka used awkward body movements to set up his bombs, but his were delivered in a wild fashion that created a violent visual effect to the audience.

Both guys are deadly. Wearing a devious grin Vic snipes his man, taking some time to enjoy the victim's pain before finishing the job. Bazooka chases down his prety for miles, whipping rocks the whole way. You wonder if Darchinyan could survive the heat Limon has thrived in. He hasn't had to go there yet.

Cornelius Boza-Edwards (pictured left) and Bazooka Limon were similar in their acceptance of the incoming. They knew they'd probably have to take the other guy's best to have a chance at winning the fight. Neither had the ability to ending it with a single blast, and that usually meant those watching were in for a slugfest. They met in 1981 and it was quicker hands of Ugandan that made the difference over 15 punishing rounds.

Though quite different in style and mentality Darchinyan and Boza share a bruising way of going about business. Vic seldom loses a physical exchange on his way to pounding his man into submission, and Boza was always at home when things got rough.

Marvin Johnson (pictured right) was a ferocious monster. A lot of fighters talk about how they aren't afraid of anything, but Johnson proved it. As a matter of fact that lack of fear is one of the main reasons he is underrated by many today. The other reason was that he fought a lot of extremely tough and skilled guys along the way, losing to the best of them.

He was a thickly muscled attacker, who sprinted to the opponent and smashed bursts of short, damaging blows into whatever he could hit. Some guys could take it and some couldn't. Matthew Saad Muhammad could take it, and he did just that over 2 of the most brutal fights in light heavyweight history. Though Saad stopped him twice, he had to surrender a piece of himself in the process. I often wonder how many other 175 lbers would have been able to stand up to that fierce initial onslaught. The Raging Bull shares Marvin's hunger for the knockout, but is more measured in his approach.

Prince Naseem Hamed will be remembered for his totally unique style in and out of the ring, but the thing that made all the boasting and showmanship worth a damn was the way he took guys out. He dispatched some very solid fighters in shocking fashion before coming to Madison Square Garden for a donnybrook with another exciting southpaw in Kevin Kelley.

Hamed was a stocky swatter who was merciless on hurt fighters. He stood at bizarre angles and held his hands in a way that was entirely his own. Often the opposition never saw the punch that laid them out or had them stumbling around with a cloudy eyes. Sound familiar? Our current 115 lb champion has many of the same characteristics that made The Prince popular around the world. Naz hit harder with a single blow, while Darchinyan is more likely to attack from start to finish.

Manny Pacquiao is on top of the world right now mostly because of his blend of alarming speed and crushing power. That scary combination is usually enough to end matters, but when it isn't, he can fall back on his infinite hunger and pride to get him through. The Pac-Man is one of a kind.

There was a time when a valid comparison could be made between Darchinyan and the current #1 fighter in the world. It wasn't too long ago that Manny was seen as a one handed fighter who only thought about drilling the guy in front of him as hard as he could until he went to sleep. We've all heard the same criticism hurled Vic's way since he came onto the scene, and it got much louder when he was stopped by Nonito Donaire.

Great fighters learn from their mistakes. They always work at getting better. Manny Pacquiao is humble enough to accept that he is not perfect, and that's a major part of why he's the best in boxing. If Darchinyan can swallow some of his pride, he can be even more dangerous than he is today. He seems to have a little more respect for his opponents when the bell rings these days, which is an encouraging sign for the future.

Honourable mentions go to Michael Moorer, Jose Luis Ramirez, Edwin Valero, Ponce De Leon, Vassiliy Jirov and Corrie Sanders.

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Mark Lyons said...

Nice read Lee. I would include Khaosai Galaxy. He was an absolute destroyer.

Andy said...

Enjoyed it, Lee. What about Jirov though? I think he's worthy of at least an honorable mention.

Lee Payton said...

Jirov fits the bill, no doubt. I'll have to add him. I've read about Galaxy, but I haven't seen an entire one of his fights, so I didn't think it would have been fair to comment.

I just remembered another... How about Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis?