Frank Martin didn’t give the kind of breakout effort he sought, the sort of performance which would have fans a salivating to see him again, against bigger name foes. Saturday night’s rival, Artem Harutyunyan, provided super stiff competition, in a WBC Lightweight Title Eliminator from The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
“The Ghost” had promised a showy outing to properly announce himself as a player at 135. Frank's ambition isn’t busted, though, Martin won via UD, 114-113, 115-112, 115-112, boosting his record to 18-0.
His roll will maybe be slowed in his head, some, being that Harutyunyan gave him more than enough problems to solve, let alone what the top players at lightweight have for him.
The Indiana native Martin (18-0, 12 KOs) admitted to Jim Gray after the harder than he thought it would be victory that he wasn’t “on.” He wasn’t pulling the trigger when seeing openings against the Olympic bronze medalist from Germany who competed in the United States for the first time as a pro, Martin said.
Frank Martin, when not in watch mode, did serve up some combos that showed his promise. The Texan got to the left eye of Harutyunyan, helping him gain a knockdown late which gave him the needed edge in the final round.
Did it help or hurt that his stable mate Errol Spence showed, and discussed his July 29 welterweight championship battle with Terence Crawford on SHOWTIME PPV?
“I just knew I wasn't active enough as I normally am,” said Martin to Gray. “I just think my reaction time just wasn’t on point tonight. He definitely was a tough opponent. I wouldn't say that it was too difficult, it was just my reaction time wasn't working like it normally does for me.
“He was definitely tough. I hit him with some big shots. He stood up, he bounced around in the ring like a ping pong, but he stood tall. I take my hat off to him.”
Loser Harutunyan Shows Skills, Class, Will Be Back After Frank Martin Fight
Harutyunyan is now 12-1, 7 KOs. He actually led 58-56 on the judges’ scorecards after six rounds but Martin won the last four rounds on those cards during this PBC presentation.
Trainer Derrick James told Frank Martin he needed a stoppage, so Martin in the 10th round hurt Harutyunyan with a left to the body. With Harutyunyan’s left eye closing, Martin again pressed in the 12th, and the loser took a knee with 53 seconds left in the clash, the first knockdown of his pro career.
“I don't agree,” Harutyunyan said of the decision to Gray, showing a winning disposition. “If it's possible I will fight him again, but if it's not, not a problem. He's just a fighter. He's not Errol Spence. I'm a big fan of Errol Spence.
“My plan is to become a world champion, or at least fight for the world title, maybe against Devin Haney or Gervonta Davis. I can go up one weight class, it's not a problem for me. But I'm so happy to be here and I want to come back.”
Martin, summing it up, stayed unbeaten, beat a solid foe, and now knows he’s got more work to get to a place where there’s clamor for him against a bold-face name at 135.
Elvis Rodriguez Has Those Heavy Hands
In the co-feature, before the Frank Martin fight, super lightweight contender Elvis Rodriguez continued his pattern. Rodriguez is a data collector. He has heavy hands, but isn’t inclined to throw them too much, for large portions of many rounds. Opponent Viktor Postol looked comparable for much of the time.
Then, the Elvis power and aggression arrived, forcing a TKO stop by the ref in round seven.
Rodriguez has won four straight since dropping a majority decision to Kenneth Sims in 2021.
He floored Postol with a right hook in the final seconds of the sixth and trainer Freddie Roach told him to keep his foot on the gas. He hurt Postol again with a right hook in the seventh round as referee Celestino Ruiz stopped the bout at 23 seconds in, with Postol running to avoid a finishing blow. Rodriguez led 59-54 at the time of the stop.
Rodriguez is 15-1-1 with 13 knockouts, while the 39 year old Postol, who had trained under Roach, went to 31-5 (12 KOs). He has now lost three straight.
Acoording to a Showtime release, “Postol was taken to the hospital for observation following the bout and wasn’t available for comment.”
“For every fight we always have a plan,” Rodriguez said to Gray. “Today, maybe it helped a little bit that Freddie trained Postol, but it's always a plan for a different fighter. This all started in the fifth round. When I hit him, I thought I fractured his nose, then I gave him a nice look in the fifth. So, in the sixth I was going for the kill.
“I felt I had him from the beginning in the seventh round. I gave him a hook and I saw that he was in trouble. And then the referee stopped the fight. So we knew we had won. I'm ready for a world title.”
Any Relation To Cookie? That Must Be Determined
Freudis Rojas, a 6-foot-2 power-puncher from Las Vegas, handled Diego Sanchez in the telecast opener, prior to the Frank Martin main event.
Rojas stopped Sanchez at 58 seconds of the seventh round of the welterweight scrap, going to 11-0 with 11 knockouts.
Referee Tony Weeks waved off the action at the request of Sanchez’s corner crew. Sanchez is now 19-3 with 16 knockouts.
“You know this guy was a tough guy. We knew that he was gonna keep putting pressure on,” said Rojas. “I'm glad I got the rounds in because that's what we need in the pros. The more rounds the better, and I know the fans like that. This was the biggest blessing.
“Like I said at the press conference, when I found the news [I would fight on the telecast] I was jumping around like a little girl like with some pom poms, man ‘cause it's such a blessing. I think this is gonna open a lot more doors for me.”