On Saturday, in the fiercest fight of his career, Frank “The Ghost” Martin secured a narrow but unanimous victory over Artem Harutyunyan in a WBC Lightweight Title Eliminator. The event took place at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and was presented by Premier Boxing Champions. Egged on by his well-known trainer Derrick James to secure a knockdown, Martin rallied in the 12th round, forcing Harutyunyan to take a knee for the first knockdown of his career.
Despite what he described as a less-than-optimal performance, Martin (18-0, 12 KOs) fought relentlessly against Harutyunyan, an undefeated Olympic bronze medalist from Germany. This marked Harutyunyan’s first professional fight on US soil, and he fought confidently and aggressively. Martin’s victory—scored 114-113, 115-112, and 115-112—came under the cheer of his promoter and stablemate, Errol Spence Jr. Martin’s exceptional stamina and relentlessness allowed him to close the fight strong, almost completely shutting Harutyunyan’s left eye.
“I wasn’t as active as I usually am,” Martin acknowledged, having claimed his second victory at The Chelsea in less than a year. “My reaction time was off tonight. Harutyunyan was tough. I wouldn’t say it was too difficult, but my usual reaction time was missing. My timing seemed a little off. He was definitely resilient. He took some heavy shots, bounced around the ring like a ping pong, but he stood tall. I respect him for enduring those big shots.”
In the fight, Harutyunyan (12-1, 7 KOs) was leading 58-56 on all judges’ scorecards halfway through. However, Martin won the final four rounds in the judges’ eyes, securing the victory. His trainer, Derrick James, encouraged him to aim for a stoppage. Heeding this advice, Martin emerged fiercely from the corner in the 10th round, stunning Harutyunyan with a left to the body. In the 12th round, he again dominated, chasing Harutyunyan around the ring. Harutyunyan took a knee with less than a minute left, the first knockdown of his career, after Martin hit him with a series of right and left punches. This break allowed Harutyunyan to recover and evade further damage from Martin’s attack.
Reacting to the decision, Harutyunyan stated, “I don’t agree. If possible, I will fight him again. But if not, no problem. He’s just a fighter, not Errol Spence. I’m a big fan of Spence. My goal is to become a world champion, or at least fight for the world title, possibly against Devin Haney or Gervonta Davis. I can move up one weight class, it’s not a problem for me. But I’m so glad to be here and I want to come back.”
Commenting on Harutyunyan taking the knee, Martin said, “I wasn’t surprised. After so many body shots, I can wear guys down. I didn’t land as many body shots as I normally do, but he held on.”
Harutyunyan cited his injured eye as the reason for taking a knee in the final round.
“He’s a good fighter. I saw every punch on him,” Harutyunyan said. “The last one hurt my eye really bad, so I had to take a few seconds to recover [on the knockdown]. I think this round was the only round that decided the fight and gave it to him.”