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Each Nation’s Best: Armenia

By Derek Bonnett: Armenia is a former republic of the Soviet Union located between the Black and Caspian Seas. The Kingdom of Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity back in the fourth century and it holds great significance in Judeo-Christian theology as the final resting place of Noah’s Ark after the flood.

The Republic of Armenia holds a far less significance in the history of professional boxing. To be more exact, the nation has only boasted two world champions and to find them you have to go way, way back to…2004. That’s right; Vic Darchinyan and Arthur Abraham are the only two Armenian born fighters to hold world titles. Their respective accomplishments will be detailed later on.

While there are no other world champions to speak of, Armenia has had a few other professional prizefighters worth mentioning. Ted Levin (Ted L. Abajian) is the first recorded boxer to come from Armenia. Between the years of 1917-1921, Levin was hailed as the bantamweight champion of California, Arizona, and Mexico. However, Levin does not match the usual criteria of the fighters mentioned in Each Nation’s Best as he finished his career with an unassuming dossier of 13-20-13 (1). William Abelyan is a former contender in the featherweight division whom posted notable wins over Orlando Salido, Guty Espadas Jr., Jesus Salud, and Martin Honorio; however, he failed in his only world title shot against Scott Harrison. Artyom Simonyan achieved contender status after defeating the capable Fahsan 3K Battery in a 2004 title eliminator. However, Israel Vazquez and the late Agapito Sanchez stopped him in the most important bouts of his career.

Armenia’s current crop of fighters is responsible for this nation’s first noticeable impact on the sport of boxing and, in the coming years, just might continue to establish a memorable history for sports fans. The following boxers are four of Armenia’s best.

4). Khoren Gevor is a fringe middleweight contender with a professional ledger of 29-3 (15). The orthodox fighter is best known for his defeat to fellow Armenian Arthur Abraham in what could be considered the most underrated KO of 2007. Gevor acquitted himself well enough against the IBF middleweight champion, but was stopped in the eleventh round in chilling fashion. Gevor’s previous two defeats came to the then undefeated Lukas Konecny.

Outside of the Abraham fight, Gevor is largely inexperienced at the world-class level. However, Gevor scored an eight round decision victory over the respectable Sergey Tatevosyan when he was 21-4. Gevor also handed five European prospects and contenders their first defeats. A second world title attempt is possible for Gevor since he holds the #7 spot in the eyes of the IBF and the #17 slot for the WBC.

Gevor, 29, has posted one victory in 2008, but needs to remain active and begin testing himself against a higher caliber of opposition if he is to make a serious impact on the Armenian boxing scene. He could gain some valuable experience by sharing the ring with a veteran like Howard Eastman.

3). Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan is a very promising twenty-two year old junior middleweight prospect. So far in his four-year professional campaign, Vanes is 20-0 (13). He has a solid amateur background and represented the United States, where he now resides, in the 2004 Olympics as a welterweight. Top Rank has been taking their time with Martirosyan bringing him up with steadily increasing opposition.

The orthodox prospect’s best victory came against Michi Munoz, who came into the bout with a record of 20-1 (13). The Nightmare proved be just that for Munoz as he finished his man in the third round. Still, the young prospect barely registers in the world rankings holding a #32 spot by the WBC. Martirosyan’s ranking will likely rise after his impressive decision victory over the seasoned Angel Hernandez on June 26. Hernandez had fought Winky Wright, Kassim Ouma, and Wilfredo Riviera earlier in his career.

Martirosyan needs to stay busy in 2008 and add to the three victories he’s already posted this year. He took a big step up against Angel Hernandez and fought with a small cut over his eye to win. Vanes needs more late-round adventures against tough veterans with greater experience. Former world title challenger Alfonso Mosquera could provide Vanes with a stern test.

2). Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan is vastly more experienced in comparison to the last two Armenian fighters and holds a record of 29-1-1 (23). Darchinyan held the IBF flyweight title for roughly a two and a half year stint. However, he has gone 1-1-1 in his last three contests. Like Gevor, the "Raging Bull" was victim to one of the best KO’s in 2007 in which he lost his title to Nonito Donaire. In his most recent effort, Darchinyan had to settle for a controversial draw against Z Gorres.

Darchinyan, 32, may be on the slide, but he has amassed an impressive dossier of victories. His much-revered power from the southpaw stance has humbled the likes of Wandee Singwacha (2), Irene Pacheco, Diosdado Gabi, Luis Maldonado, and Victor Burgos. He is still a knockout threat to any man between 112 and 115 and he is currently ranked No.4 at 115 pounds by the IBF.

Darchinyan will be fighting for the second time in 2008 on August 2 in an attempt to claim the IBF super flyweight title from Dimitri Kirilov, who also struggled in his most recent outing. A victory against Kirilov will help re-establish Darchinyan among the lighter weights, but he’ll be hard pressed to regain his former status as an unbeaten flyweight champion.

1) “King” Arthur Abraham, 28, is the unbeaten IBF middleweight champion of the world and only second to Kelly Pavlik in the division. He holds a stalwart professional resume of 27-0 (22) and has seven defenses of his championship. After his June 21 rematch KO of Edison Miranda in the United States, Abraham seems to be on the verge of his first super-fight

Abraham erased any questions about his controversial 2006 victory over Edison Miranda with a crushing fourth round KO in their rematch. As a champion Abraham has handled a variety of B level contenders with relative ease and dispatched most of them inside of the distance. His best victories as a professional are Kingsley Ikeke (KO5), Kofi Jantuah (W12), Howard Eastman (W12), and Miranda (W12, KO4).

A showdown with Kelly Pavlik is among the hottest match-ups in the sport, but it is not likely to happen soon. On the Abraham-Miranda II undercard, old warhorse Raul Marquez defeated Giovanni Lorenzo in a title eliminator and could be next for the champion. The Miranda victory marked Abraham’s second in 2008.

It’s unclear whether or not Noah walked off of his ark into Armenia with a pair of boxing world champions in tow, but the former Soviet Nation is showing the beginnings of a proud history. For Armenian boxing, the present is already far brighter than the past. The future could be even brighter.

July 1, 2008

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