Frank Martin closed out 2022 with a dominant win over Michel Rivera tonight on Showtime, winning a clear decision over 12 rounds in a matchup that was never really in doubt.
Martin took the fight on unanimous decision scores of 117-110, 118-109, and 120-107. Bad Left Hook unofficially had it 120-107, as well. The fight was a WBA eliminator, so Martin would be in line for a shot at one of the belts currently held by Devin Haney.
Martin (17-0, 12 KO) has picked up some good momentum this year, beating Romero Duno, Jackson Marinez, and now Rivera, each fight a bit more of a test on paper than the last, and none of them winding up too much of a sweat in the ring for the 28-year-old “Ghost,” promoted by Errol Spence Jr and trained by Derrick James.
And if Martin passed his test with flying colors tonight, it has to be admitted that Rivera (24-1, 14 KO) failed his pretty badly. That’s not to write the 24-year-old Dominican off forever, but he was making major tactical mistakes early in the bout that he never corrected, and was looking a little shellshocked by Martin’s speed and timing within just the first couple of rounds.
Any round that Rivera did have an argument in probably came down more to Martin not throwing much than anything special that Rivera did, or any notable success he really had. Rivera was also dropped in round seven, and he just never truly looked like he was in this fight. He’s young enough to get better for sure, but there will have to be some changes.
It’s also possible that Martin is simply special, and he’s talking like he believes that to be the case heading into 2023.
“There were some things I seen in there that I didn’t capitalize on, but I went in there and got the job done,” Martin said. “I could have did a lot more, but what we did tonight worked for us. But there’s a lot of room for improvement to get better, and we’re going to keep working.”
“I believe in myself. I believe in my team. We know what we’ve done in the gym,” Martin replied when asked why he was willing to take a challenge instead of an easier fight on paper. “We work consistently. We believed in it and we believe we’re ready for any of the top fighters. Give ‘em to us, we’re ready to eat.”
Asked if he had a direct call-out to make, Martin just said, “We want ‘em all. We can get Gervonta Davis, we can get Devin Haney, we can get any of those top guys. We’re ready. I see Rolly (Romero) in here, he can get it, too. Let’s make it happen, man.”
Rivera vs Martin highlights
Undercard highlights and results
- Vladimir Shishkin UD-12 Jose Uzcategui: This was an IBF eliminator, though the Showtime broadcast hinted at the idea of Shishkin (14-0, 8 KO) fighting secondary WBA trinketkeeper David Morrell Jr, which could be a good fight. Canelo Alvarez, of course, holds all the real belts at 168. Scores here were 115-113, 117-111, and 117-111. It was a good fight, Shishkin just the better man overall; I think 115-113 is a round or so closer than really reasonable, but it’s not the worst card you’ll see. I had 118-110, so a little wider than the judges, but 116-112 also seems totally fair to me. Shishkin out-landed Uzcategui (32-5, 27 KO) by a healthy margin and never looked in any trouble from the veteran’s power, out-working him and landing the cleaner, more consistent shots through most of the fight. It was a really solid performance from the Detroit-based Russian, who is now “officially,” as you can put it, in the mix at super middleweight.
- Vincent Astrolabio KO-6 Nikolai Potapov: A really good showing for Astrolabio, as he fairly well dominated this fight, and now is in line for a shot at the IBF title, which should go vacant soon when Naoya Inoue moves up to 122 lbs. The most likely fight there would seem to be Astrolabio vs Emmanuel Rodriguez, which is doable in-house at PBC for sure. Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KO) put Potapov (23-3-1, 11 KO) down in round one, and it could have been twice but one was ruled a slip. Every time he landed clean, he seemed to affect Potapov, who at 32 has probably fought his way out of the hunt at bantamweight. Potapov was down again in round five, then finished off in the sixth round, taking the 10-count from referee Robert Hoyle. Astrolabio, 25, looks like he’s just put it together, which happens sometimes, and he’s in the race at 118 now.
- Omar Juarez UD-10 Austin Dulay: An odd fight, where Juarez (14-1, 5 KO) was docked three points — two in the second, one in the fourth — for repeated low blows, and they were pretty well earned, honestly. He did go low; I don’t think he was trying to, but he did, and I also don’t think Dulay (15-4, 11 KO) was looking for a DQ win here, because some other shots went a little low that he could or would have reacted to far more dramatically if he were trying for that. He legit just kept getting hit low. Scores wound up 94-93, 96-91, and 96-91 for Juarez, and I had it 96-91 for him, too, giving Dulay only the 10th round. Apart from the fouls, it really was a strong outing for Juarez, and I thought he was just the better fighter pretty much all night, including the rounds where he was docked points.
- Elijah Garcia TKO-2 Cruse Stewart: Good win for the 19-year-old Garcia, a middleweight prospect, who goes to 13-0 (11 KO). He dropped Stewart (8-2, 6 KO) about halfway into the second round, and referee Robert Byrd — who is retiring after tonight — made the stoppage with Stewart still looking unsteady. Garcia came to fight, Stewart tried to meet him straight-up, and Stewart got stopped.