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Darchinyan-Agbeko head to head

09
Jul

VIC DARCHINYAN vs. JOSEPH AGBEKO

When: Saturday, July 11

Where: BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, Fla.

TV: Showtime, 9 pm. ET/ PT

Weight: Bantamweight (118 pounds)

Title(s) at stake: IBF

Also on the card: Antonio DeMarco vs. Anges Adjaho, 12 rounds, WBC lightweight eliminator; Steve Cunningham vs. Wayne Braithwaite, 12 rounds, IBF cruiserweight eliminator.

DARCHINYAN

The essentials

Age: 33

Height / Reach: 5-5¾ / 64¾

Hometown: Sydney, Australia (from Vanadzor, Armenia)

Turned pro: 2000

Record: 32-1-1 (26 knockouts)

Trainer: Vazgen Badalian

Fight-by-fight: http://www.boxrec.com/list_bouts.php?human_id=42089&cat=boxer

The Ring rating: No. 1 junior bantamweight; No. 8 pound-for-pound

Titles: IBF flyweight (2004-07, lost title to Nonito Donaire); IBF, WBA and WBC junior bantamweight (2008-current).

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);

Loss and draw: Nonito Donaire, July 7, 2007, TKO 5 (loses IBF flyweight title); Z Gorres, Feb. 2, 2008, D 12.

AGBEKO

The essentials

Age: 29

Height: 5-6

Hometown: Bronx, New York (from Accra, Ghana)

Turned pro: 1998

Record: 26-1 (22 knockouts)

Trainers: Adama Ardey

Fight-by-fight: httphttp://www.boxrec.com/list_bouts.php?human_id=22761&cat=boxer

The Ring rating: No. 6 bantamweight

Titles: IBF bantamweight (2007-current).

Biggest victories: Luis Alberto Perez, Sept. 29, 2007, TKO 7 (wins IBF bantamweight title); William Gonzalez, Dec. 11, 2008, MD 12 (successfully defends title).

John Ruiz, Nov. 18, 2006, SD 12 (WBA title eliminator); Nikolai Valuev, April 14, 2007, MD 12 (for WBA title; Valuev’s only loss).

Loss: Wladimir Sidorenko, May 18, 2004, MD 12.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Skills: Both fighters are natural sluggers who rely on their offense and often forget to protect their chins while they let their hands go. The better boxer is the fighter who delivers his punches more effectively. Agbeko’s technique is more orthodox and generally tight in the early rounds of his fights. He keeps his hands up and pops a crisp jab followed by a nice right cross when he’s not facing an aggressive fighter. However, when matched with an offensive-minded opponent, Agbeko’s technique gradually falls off during exchanges. While he mixes his power punches well, he tends to forget about his jab and square up in front of his opponent as the bout heats up. This tendency won’t serve him well against Darchinyan, who has one of the more unorthodox styles in the sport but backs his awkward aggression with underrated craftiness. Part of what makes Darchinyan so dangerous is that he knows how to set up his power punches, and though they often come from odd angles they usually land with devastating accuracy.
Edge: Darchinyan

Power: Agbeko, the naturally bigger man, has scored 22 knockouts in his 26 victories. Darchinyan, who began his career at 112 pounds, has tallied 26 KOs in 32 wins. Some might conclude that the bigger puncher is the harder puncher, but the quality of Darchinyan’s knockout victims speaks to the quality of his power. Darchinyan has knocked out five RING-rated contenders (Irene Pacheco, Luis Maldonado, Dmitri Kirillov, Cristian Mijares and Jorge Arce) and four of those opponents had never been stopped before. Arce had only been stopped once prior to his TKO loss to Darchinyan (and that was by hall-of-famer Michael Carbajal early in his career). Agbeko’s only KO of a ranked fighter was his impressive title-winning effort against Luis Perez, but that was a technical stoppage.
Edge: Darchinyan

Speed and athletic ability: Both fighters exhibit fast hands and impressive athletic ability, but Darchiyan’s reflexes are more dynamic than Agbeko’s. It’s Darchinyan’s underrated speed, reflexes and hand-eye coordination that enabled him to time and catch slick and crafty boxers like Kirillov and Mijares.
Edge: Darchinyan

Defense: It’s safe to say that neither fighter idolizes Willie Pep or tries to emulate Pernell Whitaker when he fights. While Agbeko and Darchinyan are intelligent men outside of the ring, both fight with their hearts more than their heads, which are often wide open for incoming punches. Agbeko has decent upper-body movement that protects him to an extent, and Darchinyan has good hand-eye and foot-eye coordination that he uses to parry or sidestep his opponents punches, but neither will be hard to find Saturday.
Edge: Even

Experience: Agbeko has only recently stepped up to the world-class stage. Darchinyan has been there for more than four years, during which time he’s engaged in 11 world title bouts and won four major belts.
Edge: Darchinyan

Chin: Both fighters relish exchanges, but Agbeko tucks his chin a little better than Darchinyan. In 27 pro contests, Agbeko has never been down or seriously hurt. Darchinyan, who was stretched by Nonito Donaire two years ago, obviously has.
Edge: Agbeko

Conditioning: Both fighters always show up in optimum shape and have proven to be able to fight hard for 12 rounds. Agbeko has the ability to throw more punches over a distance fight; Darchinyan is not as active but consistently throws harder punches and is able to retain his power in the late rounds of a bout.
Edge: Even

Wear and tear: Agbeko’s 27-bout career has been interrupted with long periods of inactivity (he only fought once in 2003 and didn’t fight at all in 2005 and 2006), which have apparently preserved the 29-year-old volume puncher. Darchinyan hasn’t been in many punishing bouts (he’s usually the one dishing out the punishment) but 33-year-old bomber has kept an aggressive schedule since turning pro in November of 2000, 34 bouts ago.
Edge: Agbeko

Corner: Agbeko was recently reunited with his amateur coach, Adama Ardey, before his last fight (his title defense against William Gonzalez). For that 12-round barn burner, Ardey proved to be very good at getting his fighter in top shape and keeping him motivated but he didn’t add much in the way of strategy. Agbeko’s punch output was impressive, but he appeared technically sharper in previous bouts. Darchinyan has gone from Australian legend Jeff Fenech to the respected Billy Hussein to his current coach J. Fares. Although Fares doesn’t have near the reputation of Darchinyan’s previous trainers, the fighter’s ability to set traps and line-up up his power shots seems to have improved in recent bouts.
Edge: Darchinyan

Outcome: The style and mentality of the combatants guarantee intensity that should quickly develop into toe-to-toe exchanges. Darchinyan will be able to time his usual odd-angle haymakers over, under and around Agbeko’s jab and straight rights, but the Ghanaian’s higher punch output and combinations — particularly his double right hand — will enable him to counter the Armenian stalker during exchanges. Agbeko might be able to utilize his height and reach advantages in the early rounds but as Darchinyan feints and bombs with his usual awkward violence, the defending titleholder will stand and trade with more regularity. There will probably be a few head clashes and feet tangles as the slugfest turns into a battle of attrition, but Agbeko will likely be the worse for wear going into the late rounds, where his power tends to fade. If Agbeko's chin holds out, he could still go down because of poor balance or from a body shot. Darchinyan could get caught and dropped if he runs into a hook, but Agbeko tends to swat with that punch and the Armenian assassin appears to have learned his lesson from the Donaire bout. The more experienced titleholder should take over the fight in the late rounds.
Prediction: Darchinyan by unanimous decision.

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