What was considered a 50-50 clash beforehand turned into a one-sided affair as the undefeated Martin hands Rivera his first loss Saturday night in a PBC main event on SHOWTIME.
Frank "The Ghost" Martin is a boxing chameleon. The lightweight southpaw can change shades during the course of a fight and his opponent may never notice. He can move from power puncher to boxer, from someone adept at working one angle, then changing to a different point of attack.
Martin adroitly tore apart the previously undefeated Michel Rivera, winning a unanimous lightweight decision over 12 rounds Saturday night from The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on a Premier Boxing Champions main event live on SHOWTIME.
Martin (17-0, 12 KOs) won easily by scores of 117-110, 118-109 and a 120-107 shutout.
“This is just what I do,” Martin said. “I felt good tonight. There were some things that I saw in there that I didn't capitalize on, but we went in there and got the job done.
“In the corner Derrick (James) was telling me to stay on the outside, watch out for the right hand and work the game plan. I was using my legs and I could have done it a lot more. It worked for us tonight, but there's a lot of room for improvement and we're going to keep working.”
After a strong first, Martin closed quickly in the second, engaging Rivera. With 1:39 left in the round, Martin slid a blunt left off of Rivera’s chin. He had Rivera backing up and bewildered, taking away Rivera’s jab.
Rivera, the taller fighter, was crouching and fighting small. Martin’s trainer, Derrick James, implored him to take advantage of this.
In the third, Rivera (24-1, 14 KOs) momentarily turned the course of the fight, using his jab to create an opening and land a straight right.
Martin kept the heat on. Moving Rivera back, controlling the pace and distance in the middle rounds.
Then everything swung completely in Martin’s favor in a large way.
With :33 left in the seventh, Rivera stepped in with a lead right. Martin leaned back, avoiding the shot and then quickly countering with a left cross to the chin that sent Rivera down for the second time in his career.
“We believe in ‘Man Down,’ he got caught slipping and he went down,” Martin said. “I just believe in myself and I believe in our team. We know what we're doing and we're working consistently. We believe in it and believe that we're ready for any of the top fighters, so let us get them. We're ready to eat.”
By the end, Martin dominated every punch stat category, outlanding Rivera in total punches (174 to 67), power punches (118/48) and jabs (56-19). Martin did it with strafing straight lefts, and Rivera seemingly could not do anything about it.
“I went in there for a win, I didn't come here to lose,” Rivera said. “I was feeling pretty good today, but by round four or five, I think I started to feel the effects of the weight cut. I don't make excuses, but I'm a big guy for the division.
“I'm pretty fast, but you have to be faster to fight a guy like this. I was too slow tonight. I tried to use my jab to keep him off me. He was the better guy today. I won't take anything away from him. I don't want to learn how to lose. I'm just going to work hard to win again. I don't want losing to feeling normal. I work to win.”
Martin, who is promoted by Unified Welterweight World Champion Errol Spence Jr., just put the lightweight division on notice—he’s coming.
“We want all of them,” said Martin. “Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney, we're ready. Let’s make it happen.”
Vladimir Shishkin remains undefeated with a unanimous decision over Jose Uzcategui
Vladimir Shishkin, his left eye bloodied and swollen, went 12 rounds for the first time in his career with a positive result, scoring a unanimous decision over former IBF champion Jose Uzcategui to win the IBF Super Middleweight Title Eliminator.
Final scores were 117-111 (twice) and 115-113.
With former super middleweight world champion Caleb Plant and WBA 168-pound world titlist David Morrell watching ringside, Shishkin (14-0, 8 KOs) may have entered their realm.
“This was the biggest win of his career so far and it's what he's been waiting on,” said SugarHill Steward, Shishkin’s trainer. “He’s been working hard and I think that the extra time between fights helped him out.
I'm happy with the way he performed. I'd be happy if he jabbed even more and that's something that he'll work on more. That's what these fights are for. He's going to keep working and getting better. I want him to box and be strong. Kronk style.”
Shishkin offset Uzcategui’s early aggression in each round with left hooks, jabs and countering combinations. Uzcategui (32-5, 27 KOs) started well in the first two rounds but Shiskin finished each frame strong, mainly behind combination punching.
"I came to America, and I've been living here for the last few years, to reach my goal and become world champion,” Shishkin said. “This is a big step in that direction. It was a big chance for me and I took advantage of it. I felt in control throughout the fight. I'm on a higher level now, so the fights are going to be tougher. He pushed me hard. It was something new for me.
In the third, Shishkin worked well behind his jab, landing right uppercuts and left hooks, which were countered by Uzcategui left hooks and body shots.
In the last minute of the eighth, Uzcategui nailed Shishkin with a big right to the body. It seemed to wake up Shishkin, who got up in Uzcategui’s grill and nailed him with punches from all kinds of angles, once dropping a left to the body, followed by a left hook to the head.
Entering the fight, Shishkin had knocked out six of his previous eight opponents, all coming after the fifth round. He couldn’t finish off Uzcategui yet won a clear decision.
“I want all the big names at 168 pounds. Canelo is the champion right now and I'll be ready to give him all he can handle.”
Vincent Astrolabio delivers KO win, title shot potentially next
Vincent Astrolabio made a promise to a special man, his promoter and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao, that he would deliver a knockout on Pacquiao’s 44th birthday and indeed he did.
Astrolabio stopped Nikolai Potapov at 1:26 of the sixth round of their scheduled 12-round bantamweight fight to become the IBF mandatory challenger.
Making his U.S. debut, Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KOs) sent Potapov to the canvas three times—the first three times of his career. Astrolabio dropped Potapov with :23 left in the first round with a counter left hook on top of Potapov’s head. He touched the canvas again with 53 seconds into round five, after an uppercut and left hook.
“I’m very happy with the victory,” Astrolabio said. “This was my first time in the U.S. and I'm thankful to Manny Pacquiao and my whole team for this opportunity. I felt very strong against my opponent. Just like I did against Guillermo Rigondeaux, and that gave me confidence for this fight.”
In the sixth, Astrolabio ended the bout with a right uppercut that caught Potapov on the chin. Referee Robert Hoyle counted out Potapov (23-3-1, 11 KOs) as he kneeled against the ropes.
“I will fight whoever I'm able to, but my dream is to become world champion,” said Astrolabio. “I want to fight for the belts. I'm so thankful that I had this and that I was able to give everyone a knockout. This is the biggest moment of my career and I'm going to keep pushing to fight the best.”
For a closer look at Rivera vs Martin, check out our fight night page.