Fight fans are getting an early Holiday gift in the form of one of the best matchups of 2022 as unbeaten lightweights Michel Rivera and Frank Martin throw down Saturday night in a PBC main event on SHOWTIME.
This Saturday, December 17, at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, unbeaten 135-pound contenders Michel “La Zarza Ali” Rivera (24-0, 14 KOs) and Frank “The Ghost” Martin (16-0, 12 KOs) clash in a 12-round WBA Lightweight Title Eliminator atop a Premier Boxing Champions event, live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
Lightweight has become a glamour division over the last few years with big names and big bouts occupying the minds of fight fans. Rivera and Martin find themselves in the next wave of young stars ready to make their move on the elite of the 135-pound class.
Rivera, a native of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic who now fights out of Miami, turned pro in 2016 and has impressed with his quickness and precision. Cultivating his physical and stylistic similarities to a young Muhammad Ali, he has captured the attention of fight fans and has even flirted with mainstream sports world attention.
Dominant performances against the likes of Ladarius Miller, Jon Fernandez, and Jerry Perez have cemented his status as a future star. A victory this Saturday would be a career high-water mark achievement for the 24-year-old.
The 27-year-old Martin will also be looking for a high-water mark win this Saturday versus Rivera.
Originally from Indianapolis, but now training in the Dallas area under the guidance of trainer Derrick James, Martin is promoted by Errol Spence Jr. and is looking to take that big step forward in pursuit of next-level success and bankability.
Comprehensive and brutally effective wins over Jerry Perez, Romero Duno, and Jackson Marinez have affirmed The Ghost’s “next big thing” potential.
Although this is a WBA Lightweight Title Eliminator, there’s more at stake than just a title shot. The winner of Rivera-Martin will move into the upper echelon of the lightweight division and a potential bout versus Gervonta “Tank” Davis.
Rivera is an accurate, quick-fisted, fluid puncher who has melded his natural athleticism with a ring style that compliments his abilities.
Working off a sharp, rapier-like jab, he sports an especially potent right hand that serves as his most effective offensive tool. Given his speed and natural ability, the one-two, jab-right hand combination is all he needs to dominate most opposition. However, he also works the body well and has a quick right hand when up close.
Defensively, Rivera uses his speed and reflexes as his main safeguarding tools.
“ This is going to be an action-packed fight. ” Undefeated Lightweight Contender - Frank Martin
Martin, who didn’t start boxing until he was 18, has developed quickly and has shown an incredible aptitude for the nuances of the game.
Physically strong and naturally tenacious, the southpaw’s style is deceptively simple with a jab used as a range finder, a follow-up left, and, sometimes, a right hook after that. His use of subtle movement and angles, though, is what keeps opposition off-kilter and mostly in response mode. Although his biggest offensive weapon is the left hand, most everything he throws is solid and impactful.
Martin keeps a high-guard defense to pick off punches. He also likes to get under incoming shots to facilitate counters.
“This is the type of fight that I’ve been asking for and I can’t wait to get into the ring. Martin is a strong opponent with a good record, but I’m ready to show that I am the future of the lightweight division. I’ve been training hard in Miami so that I’m ready for anything that Martin brings. Make sure you tune in to this fight!”
“I’m excited to be able to go out there and prove to myself and prove to the fans how great I am. This is going to be an action-packed fight. There is going to be a lot of excitement, and a lot of hard shots are going to be dished out, so if you want to see a bang ‘em fight, get ready to see two hungry, undefeated fighters go at it.”
Rivera-Martin is a beyond-intriguing contrast in styles and temperaments and especially compelling for true fans of the technical/tactical side of the sweet science.
Rivera, to have his best chance at victory, will have to keep the contest at arm’s length, where he can utilize his jab and straight right hand. A three-inch reach advantage will help in that regard.
Martin, on the other hand, would be better served up close, where he can utilize his physical strength as well as his knack for hitting and moving.
Essentially, Rivera vs. Martin will be a battle of focus and tenacity. If Rivera can keep the jab in Martin’s face, frustrating forward movement and keeping the contest at the right distance, he’ll walk away the winner. If Martin can bull his way in and turn a long-range boxing match into an inside battle, he’ll slug his way to a victory.
With the pride of unbeaten 20-somethings fueling the high-stakes encounter, expect this Saturday’s PBC on SHOWTIME main event to be something special – a real, evenly-matched pick ‘em treat for fight fans right before the holidays.
For a closer look at Rivera vs Martin, check out our fight night page.