Sunday Convo: Is Frank Martin ready for the next level?

Showtime Boxing continued its hot streak of shows as undefeated lightweight contender Frank ‘The Ghost’ Martin (18-0, 12 KOs) pulled out a close but unanimous decision victory over Artem Harutyunyan (12-1, 7KOs) at the Cosmopolitan Theater on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada. The judges saw this one 114-113, 115-112 & 115-112, all for Martin, who not only wins the WBC eliminator but now is in line for a potential title shot as early as next year. 

Going into the fight, Martin was the heavy favorite, but his opponent wasn’t being completely overlooked, as Martin stated in an interview with ProBoxTV earlier in the week. When digging up the background on Harutyunyan, his extensive amateur background brought him to this point, and even though he hadn’t fought in the U.S. up to this point, all signs pointed towards him being a tough out. Once the fight began, Martin used his quick feet to ensure he wasn’t lined up for a Harutyunyan punch, but at the same time, he wasn’t being active enough. Martin kept waiting for counterpunching opportunities while Harutyunyan continued to win the rounds. There were a few rounds where Martin clearly won, but there weren’t many, and his trainer Derrick James started to get concerned in his corner.

Once the bell rang to start the ninth round, that’s when Martin started to come on. He heard everything James had to say and felt he needed to press the gas on his offense. Martin showed his greatness from rounds nine through twelve and scored a knockdown in that last round as Harutyunyan took a knee. It wasn’t the way his trainer James wanted it to play out, but in the end, Martin earned the victory.

After the fight, Martin said, “I just knew I wasn't active enough as I normally am. 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. I couldn't tell you now; just my timing seemed a little off tonight. 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 because he took some big shots.”

What is next for ‘The Ghost’? Martin needs to stay active until the title situation works itself out in the lightweight division. Fighting once a year does not bode well for him, as he mentioned being unable to pull the trigger in some sequences. That isn’t what you want to hear, and to avoid that in a bigger fight down the line, he needs to stay as active as possible. Martin can face a top-ten contender or two to stay sharp until the situation clears itself. Is Martin ready for the next level or even a title shot? He has a ton of talent, and instead of giving him a rubber stamp, he should probably squeeze in two more fights before going for a title shot. Martin has a bright future, but last night showed that activity matters and he needs more of it.