Frank Martin wants to show how much he’s evolved Saturday night on Showtime
Frank Martin got a relatively late start in boxing, in comparison to other world-class fighters. “The Ghost” was 18 when he began. Most elite fighters begin when they are five or six and slip into regulation gloves that are as large as they are. He took what he learned on the streets growing up and applied them to the ring. Or so he thought. In his first sparring session, he got in with a pro swinging wildly like a madman in the streets. It did not take long to grasp the difference. A liver shot sent Martin’s mouthpiece flying and his knees to buckle.
It took some time for him to get used to wearing padded gloves in the ring, as opposed to smacking guys around with his bare hands.
But once Martin got used it, he has continued to evolve.
On Saturday, the 28-year-old southpaw Martin (17-0, 12 knockouts) will take on undefeated 32-year-old 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Artem Harutyunyan (12-0, 7 KOs) in a 12-round lightweight main event from the Chelsea Ballroom in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, on a PBC event on Showtime (7 PM PT/10 PM ET).
Martin, The Ring’s No. 6 lightweight contender, is coming off his biggest victory as a pro, dominating the previously undefeated Michel Rivera by unanimous decision on December 17 at the same venue he’ll be fighting in on Saturday night.
“I think I’ve evolved even more (since the Rivera fight), just understanding myself more as a fighter and knowing the things I can do and the things that I’m comfortable in doing,” Martin said. “I understand myself as a fighter and coming into my own, considering I got a late start in the sport. I had some issues my senior year in high school and I lost my football and wrestling opportunities. There were different things going on, and being teenagers, and amid it, I got in some trouble.
“I can say I got a scare. But if I did not get that scare, who knows where I would be. You can say that. I was a young guy that made some dumb decisions. I lured myself to the gym. I always understood me. I was a top athlete in almost every sport that I played. I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and when I began boxing, it’s when I moved to Indianapolis.
“I took some early lessons in the ring. I was super green. I got in the ring with a pro, and at that time, I was still street fighting. I swung hard, and fast, no technique, no anything, and he hit me with a body shot,” Martin said. “When I got back up, I could not keep my hands up. I said to myself that I would never feel like that again.”
This will be Harutyunyan’s first fight outside of Germany. Martin has been working with 2022 BWAA Trainer of the Year Derrick James, who has honed his rough edges and has aided Martin in seeing the ring better. Martin admitted the Rivera was special, though the most important victory of his young career came in the previous fight, when he was not feeling right and still stopped Jackson Marinez in the 10th round.
“I had a lot going on, I was on my feet the whole day and I was flat,” Martin said. “My body wasn’t working with me. I had to figure some things out. I got hit with some shots, and I went into that fight not feeling 100-percent and still won. That told me I can win when I’m not 100-percent. I’m looking forward for Harutyunyan to come at me looking for a victory. He’s definitely coming out to win. I plan on putting on a great performance against Harutyunyan. Every area of my game, offensively and defensively, has improved since I last fought. It’s what I plan on showing.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.