Frank Martin Dominates Rivera In Battle Of Unbeatens
Lightweight Frank Martin scored a seventh-round knockdown and cruised to a surprisingly one-sided rout of Michel Rivera in a battle of unbeaten contenders that headlined a Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader on Showtime on Saturday night at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Martin and Rivera, who were both on the rise and stepping up in opposition, put their perfect records on the line against a dangerous opponent far earlier in their careers than is usual and it was Martin’s gamble that paid off as he won the WBA title eliminator handily.
The judges had it 120-107, 118-109 and 117-110. Fight Freaks Unite and Big Fight Weekend also had it for Martin, 119-108.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) December 18, 2022
Martin’s Skills Were Obvious
Rivera simply could not deal with Martin’s superior speed, movement and southpaw style and his corner knew it, telling him as soon as after the sixth round that the fight was already getting to the point where he would need a knockout to win.
“This is just what I do. I felt good tonight,” said Martin, who is promoted by unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr., with whom he shares trainer Derrick James. “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.”
The fight was never in doubt as Martin dominated. He landed numerous solid straight left hands and took very little return fire.
“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.”
Time and again, Martin forced Rivera to toward the ropes and let combinations go. By the end of the sixth round Martin had opened a small cut under Rivera’s right eye.
“In the corner Derrick was telling me to stay on the outside, watch out for the right hand and work the game plan,” Martin said. “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.”
Knockdown showed Martin in control
In the seventh round, Martin landed a quick straight left hand-right hook combination that knocked Rivera to his rear end. It was just the second time in his career that Rivera had been knocked down.
“I’m pretty fast, but you have to be faster to fight a guy like this. I was too slow tonight,” Rivera said. “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.”
After the ninth round, Rivera’s corner once again told him he needed a knockout to win, but he never came close to doing any damage to Martin, who closed the fight as strong as he started.
In the 11th round, he rocked Rivera with a left uppercut and later in the round he landed a hard counter left hand. By the end of the round, Rivera’s left eye was swelling.
Martin’s dominance was reflected in the CompuBox statistics as he landed 174 of 561 punches (31 percent) and Rivera landed just 67 of 439 (15 percent).
Martin (17-0, 12 KOs), 27, of Indianapolis, out-landed Rivera (24-1, 14 KOs), 24, of the Dominican Republic, in every round except the first round, when they each were credited with landing six blows. Rivera did not land double digits in any round, landing only as many as eight punches in the fifth and sixth rounds, while Martin landed an average of 15 shots per round.
“I just believe in myself and I believe in our team,” Martin said. “We know what we’re doing and we’re working consistently. We believed in it and believed that we’re ready for any of the top fighters, so let us get them. We’re ready to eat.”
Martin said he has learned a lot working alongside Spence as well as undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo in their Dallas gym.
“It’s a blessing and they keep me going,” Martin said. “I’m always watching Errol when he’s sparring and I’m always asking questions and looking to get better. Seeing champions on top like them, I’m getting nothing but game from them.”
With the win secured, Martin said he wants even bigger fights.
“We want all of them. (Secondary titlist) Gervonta Davis, (undisputed champion) Devin Haney, we’re ready,” Martin said. “Let’s make it happen.”