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The unbeaten lightweight contender will lay it all on the line when he faces fellow unbeaten 135-pounder Michel Rivera in a highly anticipated PBC main event Saturday night on SHOWTIME.

There is a slender line separating hopeful from confident, and another separating confident from arrogant. How any fighter on the rise proceeds past those invisible barriers, while maintaining proper perspective of the potential prize that lies ahead, goes a long way in determining just how high his career ceiling eventually reaches.

Highly regarded lightweight prospect Frank “The Ghost” Martin was widely conceded to possess talent as a southpaw boxer-puncher, of whom more evidence as to his full potential would be gleaned from his July 9 performance this year against the sturdy Jackson Marinez in San Antonio, Texas. That Martin passed the test with flying colors, scoring a 10th-round stoppage, moved him closer to that second slender line, where needed confidence must be maintained without assuming that continued success will forever advance unabated. Overconfidence is the booby-trap that has periodically ensnared even some of boxing’s greatest champions.

The Detroit-born, Indiana-raised and now Dallas-based Martin (16-0, 12 KOs) can move a step closer to the kind of legitimate stardom envisioned by his trainer, Derrick James, and WBC/WBA/IBF welterweight champion and promoter/role model Errol Spence Jr. when he squares off against fellow phenom Michel “La Zarza Ali” Rivera (24-0, 14 KOs), of the Dominican Republic, this Saturday, December 17, in the 12-round PBC on SHOWTIME main event (10 p.m. ET./7 p.m. PT) from the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The WBA title eliminator bout not only moves the winner within sniffing distance of a title shot, but is that rarest of rarities in a boxing landscape where 50/50 pairings at the elite or near-elite level are frequently discussed but not nearly as often made as the public might desire.

“I feel that Rivera is a good fighter,” Martin said of what figures to be his sternest test to date. “He can punch, he can counterpunch. He can box. He pretty much can do a lot of things, but there are some things I see that I can take away from him. Once I take away those things, I’ll make him look like a different fighter. Then I can work my magic on him.

“I do feel that this is one of them fights that kind of went under the radar a little bit, but now, the more that it’s getting pushed out there, I feel a lot of people are, like, `Man! This is a must-see fight! Both of these guys are putting it on the line!’ People can’t believe that a fight like this is happening right now, but me and him both believe in ourselves. We made this fight happen, and the best man is going to win on Dec. 17.”

On paper, where prizefights are only theoretically contested, Martin-Rivera certainly appears to be the sort of matchup where important momentum is achieved by the winner and is at least temporarily blunted for the loser. The 24-year-old Rivera comes in ranked No. 2 by the WBA, No. 6 by the IBF, No. 9 by the WBC and No. 10 by the WBO. Martin, 27, is listed in the top 10 of only one of the fourth widely recognized sanctioning bodies, No. 10 by the WBA, but his support from those willing to put their money where their mouths are is such that he went from a slight opening-line underdog to a slight favorite in the Vegas sports books. 

This is my opportunity to continue to grow and continue to work my way up. Undefeated Lightweight Contender - Frank Martin

Before his confrontation with Marinez, Martin – clearly having moved past the hopeful stage and increasingly into the confident – dropped hints as to when he thought his pugilistic apprenticeship would soon reach the graduation level.

“I’m trying to get something (a world title shot) by the end of the year, maybe the beginning of next year,” he said. “Nobody specific. The next fight I’m looking for is a title eliminator that gets me to where one of those guys got to fight me.”

That elimination bout is now about to happen, and Martin is firm in his belief that it’s not happening by accident. A future champion’s destination, like train travel, is best served by maintaining a rigid schedule.

“I feel like I spoke it into existence,” Martin said of the career building block as represented by Rivera. “I knew this opportunity would be coming soon. I felt that it would be by the end of this year or the beginning of next year. It came at the end of this year, and I’m ready for it.”

Part of that readiness comes from his daily exposure to James, whose work with Spence (28-0, 22 KOs) and undisputed world super welterweight champ Jermell Charlo (38-1-1, 19 KOs), as well as with Martin and others, has certified him as one of the most accomplished trainers in the sport. Even if his most prized pupils were so disposed, James is not the sort to let anyone in his gym cross that slender line from confidence to arrogance.

“Man, they give me that extra push that I need,” Martin said of the hard-work dictums continually cited by James and exemplified by Spence and Charlo. “The fighter who I would be fighting for the belt (WBA lightweight titlist Gervonta “Tank” Davis) has stuff he got to take care of himself on January 7 (when he defends against Hector Luis Garcia in Washington, D.C.).

“One thing that helps me to maintain focus is not getting too comfortable. A lot of fighters, once they get in a certain position, they get comfortable. One thing Derrick always stresses is not to get comfortable, no matter how high you are. Even guys like Errol and Jermell, they’re not comfortable. Here (in Dallas), we try to keep it balanced – don’t get too high or too low. That’s something that’s stuck with me.

“I know I’m not there yet. I’m still trying to get there. This is my opportunity to continue to grow and continue to work my way up. I’m getting there, but I’m still not there.”

For a closer look at Frank Martin, check out his fighter page. 

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The Dallas-based trainer breaks down Saturday night's PBC headliner on SHOWTIME and much more.

Derrick James, arguably the best trainer in boxing today, joins The PBC Podcast this week to break down his fighter Frank Martin taking on fellow unbeaten lightweight contender Michel Rivera this Saturday, February 17 at The Chelsea at The Cosmpolitan of Las Vegas, live on SHOWTIME (10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT). You don't want to miss what James has to say about that fight, Errol Spence Jr., Jermell Charlo and more! Plus, in this week's Toe To Toe segment, hosts Kenneth Bouhairie and Michael Rosenthal list their Top Five PBC Contenders Today. 

The PBC Podcast is a weekly boxing show featuring timely analysis and interviews with the sport’s biggest figures. The show is published every Wednesday on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Spreaker and other outlets. Alternatively, listeners can find The PBC Podcast on the PBC website at www.premierboxingchampions.com/podcast.

Derrick James, Rivera-Martin & More

THU, JAN 01, 1970

Fight Night Report: Davis vs. Garcia

TONIGHT: Rivera vs Martin

TOMORROW: Rivera vs Martin

TODAY: Benavidez vs Plant Kickoff Presser

Fight Night: Sat, Jan 07, 2023 - Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Demetrius Andrade vs Demond Nicholson

Unbeaten former two-division champion Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs) earned a shutout unanimous decision in his super middleweight as he dropped Demond Nicholson (26-5-1, 22 KOs) twice across the 10 rounds.
Andrade vs Nicholson Round by Round Fight Summary. Rounds are displayed numerically as columns. Each row will display one of the following: W for win, L for loss, KO for knockout, or TKO for technical knock out. An empty column means that data is not available.
Fighter Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Andrade No data available No data available No data available No data available
Nicholson No data available No data available No data available No data available

“I felt good, I can definitely tell the difference at the new weight,” said Andrade, who won by three scores of 100-88. “But the speed and combinations and using my IQ was the plan today and that’s what we did. The weight was different.”

Recap Image

Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Andrade, a former world champion at 154 and 160 pounds, leapt at Nicholson and connected with a left hand just moments after the opening bell, setting the tone for the action to follow. Andrade sent Nicholson to the canvas in round two with a combo to the head, although Nicholson claimed the knockdown should have been ruled a slip.
 
Nicholson nearly changed the tide early in round five as he appeared to connect with a body shot on Andrade that sent him to the canvas. However, referee Malik Waleed called the sequence a slip, before Andrade rose to his feet to win the round.
 
“The only way I can say I’m the best is by fighting the best,” said Andrade. “Everyone knows that Demond Nicholson is a dog. That’s why we took this fight. He took this fight because he knew I was coming up and he definitely has the animal in him. He showed it today.”
 
Andrade’s accuracy and volume proved to be the difference, as he connected at a 45% clip, out-landing Nicholson 145 to 28. Andrade punctuated his dominance with a knockdown in the final round, landing a perfect counter that forced Nicholson’s glove to hit the mat. Nicholson made it to the final bell, but Andrade emerged with a dominant victory.  
 
"We're going to look to see who's available at 168 pounds,” said Andrade. “I'm just going to get stronger, sharper and faster."

Fight Night: Sat, Jan 07, 2023 - Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Hard-hitting Roiman Villa (26-1, 24 KOs) storm back on the scorecards by dropping the previously unbeaten Rashidi Ellis (24-1, 15 KOs) twice in the 12th and final round to win a thrilling majority decision in their IBF Welterweight Title Eliminator.
Ellis vs Villa Round by Round Fight Summary. Rounds are displayed numerically as columns. Each row will display one of the following: W for win, L for loss, KO for knockout, or TKO for technical knock out. An empty column means that data is not available.
Fighter Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Ellis No data available No data available No data available No data available
Villa No data available No data available No data available No data available

One judge scored the fight 113-113, but was overruled by two 114-112 tallies in favor of Villa.

Recap Image

Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Down on two cards entering the final round, a relentless Villa broke through against a tiring Ellis and landed a bruising left hook that sent Ellis down early in the 12th. Ellis worked valiantly to stay on his feet and see the final bell, but suffered a second knockdown with 30 seconds left in the fight.
 
“He was a tough fighter,” said Villa. “He moved a lot. He does hit hard. The first couple rounds I was a little tight but then I got loose. I was on top of him from the first round. I know that fighters such as him who are quick sooner or later will get a little tired and that’s what I took advantage of.”
 
After Ellis won the first five rounds on all three cards, Villa began to gain momentum through the middle frames and swept the final four, including the fight-changing 12th. While Ellis out-jabbed Villa by a staggering 164 to 13 margin, the power punch disparity was just 103 to 101 in favor of Ellis. In round nine through 12, Villa held a 58 to 24 lead in power punches landed.
 
The bout was contested at close quarters throughout, with Villa pressing the action while Ellis was content to sit back and fire counters. Included in those counters were a consistent effort to target Villa’s body, as he held a 53 to 10 edge in body shots.
 
“My corner told me to knock him down in the 12th round,” said Villa. “I couldn’t do it on the first try but I kept going. I thought he just fell on the last knockdown so I wasn’t sure if it was a knockdown. But if they want the rematch we’ll give them the rematch.”
 
Following the judges’ ruling, Ellis stated his belief that he had won the fight and his desire for an immediate rematch.
 
“I want the rematch right away,” said Ellis. “I thought I was dictating the fight. I don’t know what happened. I totally disagree with the decision. I was winning most of the rounds. Yeah, he had the knockdown but other than that I was winning most of the rounds.”

Fight Night: Sat, Jan 07, 2023 - Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Jaron Ennis vs Karen Chukhadzhian

Rising welterweight star Jaron “Boots” Ennis (30-0, 27 KOs) cruised to a unanimous decision over Karen Chukhadzhian (21-2, 11 KOs) to earn the vacant Interim IBF Welterweight Title after going 12 rounds for the first time by the score of 120-108 three times.
Ennis vs Chukhadzhian Round by Round Fight Summary. Rounds are displayed numerically as columns. Each row will display one of the following: W for win, L for loss, KO for knockout, or TKO for technical knock out. An empty column means that data is not available.
Fighter Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Ennis No data available No data available No data available No data available
Chukhadzhian No data available No data available No data available No data available

“I learned to just take my time and to not rush anything,” said Ennis. “I’m glad I went 12 rounds. It felt great. I felt I was in the best shape. I just needed to throw a little more punches. I should have got him out of there.”

Recap Image

Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Philadelphia’s Ennis moved himself one step closer to a world title opportunity against the cagey and evasive Chukhadzhian. The Ukrainian showed deft footwork throughout the fight, never staying in the pocket long enough for Ennis to put combinations together while landing the occasional counter.
 
Overall Chukhadzhian was out landed by a 203 to 97 margin, as Ennis also held advantages in accuracy (34% to 17%) and body shots (88 to 11). This was Ennis’ first fight that went the distance since 2017.
 
“He ran a lot,” said Ennis. “Hats off to him since a lot of guys didn’t want to fight me. So shout out to him for coming here and taking this fight.”
 
“He had a different level of speed than I’m used to,” said Chukhadzhian. “I don’t make any excuses though. I wish I could have done more to hurt him.”
 
Ennis remained patient through the championship rounds, as he tried in vain to break down his backpedaling opponent before settling for the decision. With the interim title in tow, Ennis set his sights on unified IBF, WBA and WBC Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr.
 
“Everyone knows I want Spence,” said Ennis. “I’ll keep waiting until the time is right and Spence is ready to take the fight.”

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