By Karl Hegman | January 09, 2008

Vanes "The Nightmare" Martirosyan fights strictly by the book, the way it is written up in Olympic Boxing 101.  An upright and stylish boxer from the conventional orthodox stance, he holds his guard high, chin down with elbows tucked in and left foot in front. Jabbing and double jabbing, his balance is near flawless as he shoots in follow-up right hands and left hooks, hard at work training in his new home at the Savannah Boxing Club. The shots are fast and the right hands come straight from the shoulder with the proper extension as he is working under the watchful eye of Savannah trainer Jay Johns. Keeping his head and upper body moving, Martirosyan double jabs and pivots off to the right on the balls of his feet on 45 degree angles and rips in hooks under and over, rolling under imagined counters. He jabs his way back out of the pocket and repeats the maneuver, only this time, fighting to his left, always with rhythm and verve as he envisions himself in the midst of a heated exchange with an invisible opponent. Martiroysan is laboring long and hard, along with the unified lightweight champion of the world Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz and former heavyweight champion Evander "Real Deal" Holyfield.

Originally from Abovayan, Armenia, Martirosyan's father packed up the family's belongings and moved them across the world to the sunny confines of Glendale, California when Vanes was four years old. He began his ring career at the tender age of seven. The elder Martirosyan (Norik) was an active duty member of the Armenian Army and a former amateur boxing champion who saw talent in his son at an early age and encouraged his offspring to give it his all in training in the tough and competitive world that is amateur boxing. An undefeated professional with a 17-0 ring ledger including 11 wins via the Lunesta route, Martirosyan culminated a highly decorated amateur career with wins over Austin Trout, Rudy Cisneros, and Andre Berto to win a spot on the 2004 United States Olympic Team in Athens as the super welterweight representative. He beat up Benamar Meskine of Algeria in the first bout, but dropped a controversial 20-11 decision to Cuba's Lorenzo Aragon. After his return to the United States, Vanes signed on with Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc. as his promotional firm and brought on Shelly Finkel in a management role and the high profile trainer Freddie Roach as he began his professional career on April 8, 2005 with a four round unanimous decision over one Jesse Orta.

The first time I had an opportunity to take a good look at Martirosyan in person was on a blistering hot August night (August 26, 2005 to be exact) at the non-air conditioned D & I Colonial Ballroom in Houston in his third professional fight vs. Fernando Vela. Although Martirosyan won every round, he was in a tough fight for every round with the tough Mexican import. I noted at the time that Martirosyan made two or three good moves in there, but neglected to utilize his jab and was loading up on his shots, looking to put Vela on ice with every punch he threw.  Tall and angular, he demonstrated a proclivity to strike adeptly from both the left and right side and controlled the pocket as he punched to the wheelhouse hard and with strength-sapping effectiveness. I left that evening somewhat impressed by the poise and confidence that he displayed, not only under very physically demanding atmospheric conditions (it was so hot inside, the two concession stands ran out of soft drinks and beer), but also for not losing his cool when the man in front of him would not go down from his best shots.

I was present at the Top Rank card in Houston last August 30th for his fight vs. Dominican Alexis Division in a fight that turned out to be a gross mismatch.  Martirosyan leaped into action at the opening bell and jarred Division's head back with stiff jabs followed by crushing right hands and left hooks to the body and head, dropping him and basically pulverizing him over the first two rounds. The Dominican lost all his taste for battle after sampling Martirosyan's incoming and refused to come out for the third round. Poor Division never landed a meaningful punch during the carnage while Martirosyan never missed a punch, much to the delight of his throng of fans that evidently accompanied their hero here from California. They were not disappointed as Maritrosyan gave them what they paid to see which was a brutal beating dished out to an inferior opponent. 

Feeling mired at a certain developmental level under trainer Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, the ambitious 21-year-old decided to make a proactive and dramatic life change and relocated to Houston to work under the legendary trainer of champions, Ronnie Shields. Recently, I went to the Savannah Gym to take a look at him workout and he is one of the few boxers I have encountered that appears to be right at his stated height of six feet, disproving, in this situation at least, the old boxing adage about always taking off 2 inches of a fighter's listed height. Handsome and articulate, Martirosyan is a likeable and talkative young man who has a strong sense of direction as far as his current career path is concerned.  "I made the decision to come to Houston to work with Ronnie because I wanted to take my game to the next level and, so far, it is working out extremely well," he said. When I asked him if there had been a falling out with Freddie Roach, he replied, "No, not at all as Freddie is a great guy and a good trainer, but I just felt that the time was ripe for a change."

He continued, "There have not been any problems acclimating myself here in Houston as opposed to LA, but they are worlds apart for me socially as I was so used to being recognized when I went out in public there, being invited to a lot of red carpets and various other functions." A gifted and dedicated athlete, Martirosyan admits that he has had to gear up his already Spartan-like training regimen since starting at Savannah's. "I am working harder than ever, running long and grueling miles with Jay before dawn in the mornings, coming here to do my boxing work afterwards and then training on the Stairmaster and weights with Brian Caldwell on the days I don't run."  Caldwell is a Houston-based strength and conditioning coach that has revolutionized current boxing training methods as evidenced by his work with unified lightweight champion Juan Diaz.  "We all work well and with unity as a team here, no problems, no hassles and no dramatics; just plain old fashioned gut-busting boxing work and absolute diligence in preparation as we know it will all pay off in the long run," says Martirosyan.

Most hard hitters usually develop hand problems at some point in their careers, but so far, this hasn't been a significant issue with Martirosyan. "I've been lucky as I've been blessed with big and strong hands," he said, "but I had to go to the hospital once to have them looked at after I knocked this one guy out and I saw that guy in the emergency room getting looked at as he was hurt bad. It bothered me for a minute that I hurt someone so badly, but I thought of the Warrior's Code and it's just like Sugar Ray Robinson said: I'm in a hurting business, my job is to inflict pain on my opponent and then knock him out. It's nothing personal. He is in there trying to knock me out as well. It's just business and what I get paid to do. I trust my instincts in there as a lot of times, you don't necessarily have time to think. You just react to what you've been taught in the gym. It's all just a natural process you are taught through concentration on what you are working on and repetition."

When I asked him if there was any one particular fighter he would most want to take on next, he replied, "Julio Chavez Jr., there is no doubt in my mind I could whip that guy. The last guy he fought was tagging him easy and he's not even close to my level. That guy he fought was basically a club fighter."  I then pointed out a dangerous flaw in young Chavez as he negates a natural height and reach advantage he has over most of his opponents and actually bends down into their punching zone and power and also brings his left hand back low after he throws it, thus making him vulnerable to the right hand counter over the low left. Vanes replied, "He's open for everything, he's like a slow robot. Real boxing is like a chess game. Once I set traps for him and he bites on them, I'm going to move in and put him to sleep, but good. His father isn't going to be able to help him out any once he's in there with me. The last guy he fought was basically a club fighter who isn't even close to my level and he was hitting Chavez almost at will. I can promise everyone here on FightHype that I am going to put him in the deep freeze and it won't take me very long either as wide open for shots as he is. He's just not that good of a fighter who has made his reputation because of who his father is, who was a great champion, and he has already lost once as well, knocked down and beaten up, but was rewarded with a gift draw."

Confidence is certainly not a problem with Martirosyan. "I think I'm ready for anyone at super welterweight to be honest with you. There are some real good fighters out there, but I'll beat them all, no doubt about that.  You asked me about Austin Trout. If it happens, I'll fight him. I beat him three times in the amateurs. We're friends though, but as you know, you don't have any friends in that ring. He used to laugh in the ring, before we fought, at the ring announcers who were trying to pronounce my name correctly, but kept messing up," he would boast. "I'm fully focused on my career right now. All I want to do is learn and improve. I'm totally comitted to training.  There will be time enough for the girls and partying later. Only pain and sacrifice right now. I've galvanized my body and soul for the sole purpose of winning a world title. I want to stay as active as I can possibly be. The folks at Top Rank have been great and Ronnie has been giving me new combinations and moves in there the last couple of months. Lots of new weapons to work with."

Martirosyan does indeed have a full compliment of weapons at his disposal and he put them on graphic display December 20th on the Versus network's Thursday Night Fights before a sold out crowd at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and a nationally televised viewing audience. The unfortunate recipient of Martirosyan's inaugural fight under his new team was part-time fighter Dan Wallace who stepped in after Martirosyan's original opponent, Elco Garcia, withdrew from the fight a week prior. Martirosyan sprang out of his corner double jabbing and the two traded jabs. Striking as fast as a diamondback rattlesnake, Martiroysan unleashed a venomous counter right hand over Wallace's low left that immediately put him in big trouble. Wallace staggered and appeared to be on the deck of a schooner in a storm at high sea as he tried to maintain his balance. Rather than rushing in to finish his wounded quarry off, Martirosyan gave Wallace his left shoulder and allowed him to fall in and hold until referee Russell Mora broke the pair.

Looking poised and relaxed, Vanes put his shots in behind the jab and hurt Wallace once again with right hands and left hooks under and over as Wallace backpedaled, but Martirosyan slid over to his own left breaking off all escape routes and sealed the retreating Wallace into a neutral corner.  Measuring his trapped and hurt prey with a left like a hangman testing his rope, Martirosyan unleashed a sizzling right hand that caught Wallace flush on the point of the chin; center shot! Time and life were suddenly suspended as Wallace fell backwards, torso first, resembling a folding sack of flour. The substitute landed hard on his spine as his head came crashing down to the canvas a split second later in a violent whiplash. Poor Wallace had more guts than was good for him as he tried to get up. Referee Mora should have stopped the contest immediately at that point and summoned medical attention right then and there. A frightening scene ensued as Wallace struggled to his feet at the count of 9 and fell lifelessly into the arms of Mora before he finally and very tardily waved the fight off.

In his most recent effort, on January 4th, Martirosyan improved his unbeaten record to 18-0 (12KO's) as he won a unanimous 6-round decision over Clarence Taylor at the Alameda Swap Meet in LA. Martirosyan won every round on all cards, punished Taylor throughout, powered through his defense, but could not put over the finisher due to admittingly excessive headhunting on his part.  Martirosyan knows that a fighter can't knock out every opponent every time out of the box, "As we discussed about the Vela fight, and it rings true with Taylor as well, I didn't knock them out, but I beat both of them up pretty bad. I don't go in looking for the knockout. I go in there looking to fight my fight and control the action, which is exactly what I did tonight. If the knockout comes, it comes. If it dosen't, I'm getting the work and the rounds in and learning something new each and every fight. Thanks to all of my great fans for their continued support and once I'm on top, I'm remaining there for a long time."  Martirosyan has established a very sizeable and vocal fan base already, which is prevalent at his fights, and has his own website ( and myspace page as well. Needless to say, the future certainly does appear to be very bright for Martirosyan and there is no doubt that this compelling fighter will one day garner a world championship in his journey down the fistic path that is professional boxing.  How do I know he will be a world champion? That's easy...because Vanes Martirosyan said so, that's how!

[Editor's note: would like to welcome Karl Hegman and Topaz Lantz as the newest members of our team.]

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