Look out flyweights... here comes Oscar
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
If I'm Vic Darchinyan... I'm not sleeping so well these days.
Of course, something about the pressure of an upcoming fight, the specter of a determined opponent and the inherent risk of losing hard-earned championship hardware would be enough to keep anyone from a fully restful eight-hour stretch.
For Vic, though, it's a little different.
He's clearly a wanted man.
But it's not imminent February foe Jorge Arce causing the night sweats.
As it turns out, he's got much bigger problems. Literally.
Even now, at the tail end of a big fight week, the powers-that-be in the Oscar De La Hoya camp are preparing to pull out stops and lure the 115-pound dynamo into a ring with the "Golden Boy" -- presuming their man survives Saturday night's tussle with Manny Pacquiao.
After all, with just a quick scan of the world's best pound-for-pound fighters -- and given Oscar's recent track record of fighting, ummm... the "best of the best" in every class -- it makes perfect sense.
Vic Darchinyan is clearly the kingpin among the super flys.
Calzaghe's quitting. Hopkins is old news. Vazquez and Marquez are fellow Mexicans. And neither Klitschko nor Dawson have anywhere near the sort of momentum that the Armenian-turned-Australian has built in his weight range over the past 12 months.
Truth told, even Pacquiao and his one measly lightweight belt is barely a tune-up.
While Vic has lost just once in 33 career fights between 112 and 119 pounds and scored 25 KOs along the way, his more-celebrated Filipino counterpart was dumped twice in three years before wisely vacating the flyweight ranks to pursue heavier, less agile quarry.
And these days, Darchinyan's clearly the kingpin among the super flys. He unified his division with a smashing knockout of a fellow title-holder. And if De La Hoya was truly incited by Freddie Roach's lame "can't pull the trigger" venom, it's no wonder Vic's already got him chomping at the bit.
Imagine Andre the Giant versus Verne Troyer... with boxing gloves.
The powers-that-be in the Oscar De La Hoya camp are preparing to pull out stops and lure Vic Darchinyan into a ring with the "Golden Boy".
"I can't get enough of Mexican fighters," the refreshingly brash Darchinyan said recently, referencing last month's particularly violent ninth-round demolition of Durango-born Cristian Mijares in Oscar's Carson, California backyard. "They bounce real good off the canvas when I hit them."
Think I'm kidding? Think the verbal gauntlet has not been tossed?
Just look at De La Hoya's 2008 track record of reaction to lesser agitation.
"He honestly feels that Freddie and Pacquiao have been disrespectful," said Richard Schaefer, the Golden Boy Promotions CEO, after Roach's comparatively tame summertime outburst.
"It's (expletive) for Freddie to say that Oscar can't pull the trigger anymore. When Oscar read Freddie's comments, he was like, 'What the (expletive) is that?' He feels challenged now."
And based on recent statements about a match with wildly popular 140-pounder Ricky Hatton, is it really that hard to envision the Golden Boy trimming off a few more lingering lbs. to entice Darchinyan into a far more compelling catch-weight encounter -- maybe at super bantam?
Unlike silly fights with guys like Williams and Margarito that actually make sense on the scales and with fans, this one's got the power of international geography on its side, too.
Simply substitute a name and a city and a gastric bypass surgeon... and it's a done deal.
"A fight between me and (Darchinyan) has to happen in (Sydney)," he said.
"I can have a Vegas fight with anyone, but if I'm going to fight (Darchinyan) it has to be in his backyard. At this stage I need special events to motivate me. (Sydney), in front of that vast (Darchinyan) crowd, would definitely motivate me."
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As for Saturday's in-ring reality... it looks pretty simple from here.
No matter how dramatic the edits on HBO's 24/7 infomercials or how compelling the scripts on the accompanying "Dream Match" spots, the bottom line remains the bottom line.
Junior middleweights, no matter how old they are, don't lose to featherweights -- no matter how many times Kool-Aid drinkers refer to them as "the best pound-for-pound" fighters in the world.
Never have. Never will.
And before you send off that nasty e-mail, I know boxing history is filled with instances of guys climbing the ladder to win titles in multiple weight classes.
De La Hoya himself is evidence, having started his career as a reed-thin junior lightweight before capturing subsequent belts at 135, 140, 147, 154 and, ahem... 160 pounds.
But in those cases, it's been a predictable case of physicality.
Oscar stands just a shade less than six feet tall, meaning he was freakishly large for a 130-pounder and was naturally destined to add jewelry as he added weight.
A similar forecast can be made for Paul Williams who -- like Tommy Hearns a generation before -- is an abnormally tall 147-pounder and could easily pack on another 35-40 pounds without seriously compromising technique or power.
And don't be surprised if five years from now 5-foot-11 Panamanian stringbean Celestino Caballero is knocking out middleweights instead of bantamweights.
But for Pacquiao, it's not the same.
The Filipino stands just 5-foot-6 and has never weighed in above 135 pounds, clearly indicating the jump past 140 all the way to 147 has little to do with evolution and much with economics.
And stylistically speaking, it's not such a good idea either.
Though recent times have also seen a pair of athletic 175-pounders -- Michael Spinks and Roy Jones Jr. -- slay much larger and more powerful heavyweight dragons, both did so with guile, not combat.
Spinks dipped and darted his way to two wins over an aging, less mobile Larry Holmes, while a still-prime Jones relied on quick hands and world-class reflexes to get past ponderous 230-pounder John Ruiz.
When push comes to shove for Manny, though, he won't have that sublime ammunition.
Having thrived on full-throttle aggression and a willingness to linger in the pocket, Pacquiao has the wrong recipe when facing a foe who'll have every possible advantage in size, strength and power.
And if Oscar maintains any residue of the pop that's laid out lifetime 154-pounders like Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga, what makes Roach think it won't do similar things to a guy who's suffered two stoppage defeats to opponents weighing less than 115?
Contrary to Mr. Roach's blather, it won't be easy, it won't be pretty and it won't be successful.
What it will be is convincing, for Oscar -- in 10 rounds or less.
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This week's title-fight capsules:
Vacant WBC super middleweight title -- Nottingham, England Carl Froch (No. 1 contender) vs. Jean Pascal (No. 3 contender) Froch (23-0, 19 KO): Seven straight wins by stoppage Pascal (21-0, 14 KO): First fight outside North America
FitzHitz says: Froch in 10
WBO junior featherweight title -- Las Vegas, Nevada Juan Manuel Lopez (champion) vs. Sergio Medina (No. 4 contender) Lopez (23-0, 21 KO): Two straight wins by first-round stoppage Medina (33-1, 18 KO): Lost lone career fight outside Argentina
FitzHitz says: Lopez by decision
IBF cruiserweight title -- Newark, New Jersey Steve Cunningham (champion) vs. Tomasz Adamek (No. 1 contender) Cunningham (21-1, 11 KO): Won title in May 2007 - one successful defense Adamek (35-1, 24 KO): Held WBC title at 175 and IBO title at cruiserweight
FitzHitz says: Cunningham by decision
Last week's record: 4-1 Overall picks record: 46-18
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He provides "In The Ring" commentary for Cold Hard Sports on MVN (coldhardsports.com), is a periodic contributor to "The Drive with Dave Smith" on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.