Wednesday, February 08, 2023  |


Vanes Martirosyan earns hard-fought decision over Willie Nelson


Vanes Martirosyan outpointed fellow junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson in a hotly contested 10-round bout on Saturday in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Martirosyan won by scores of 97-93, 97-93 and 96-94.

The 28-year-old Southern Californian entered the Showtime-televised bout with a heavy heart. The Armenia native who represented the U.S. in the 2004 Olympics is trained by Joe Goossen, the brother of promoter Dan Goossen who passed away on Monday. Martirosyan (35-1-1, 21 knockouts) signed with Dan Goossen’s company last year but grew very close to the beloved promoter.

“I needed to dig deep to win this fight and that’s what we did,” Martirosyan told Showtime’s Steve Farhood. “It’s been a hard week for us. We fought a hard fight and we won but too bad (Dan) wasn’t here. My dad told me that he would be watching (from heaven). This fight is for Dan, we love him and we miss him.”

Martirosyan had to overcome a significant height and reach disadvantage against Nelson (23-2-1, 13 KOs). He also had to overcome a strong opening round from the rangy 6-foot-3 native of Cleveland, Ohio. Nelson, who landed more jabs throughout the contest, put heavy hands on Martirosyan in Round 1 but the gutsy Armenian-American won the next three rounds by rocking Nelson with counter right hands.

Nelson, who is also as gutsy as they come, gave up his reach advantage by fighting in close for much of the second half of the bout but he went tit for tat against Martirosyan during their many heated exchanges, often landing telling uppercuts. However, Martirosyan, who suffered a nasty cut over his right eye, was the busier of the two and the more mobile boxer. He landed more power shots, which apparently was the difference on the official scorecards.