CABAZON — With 36 pro fights to his name, Vanes “Nightmare” Martirosyan is no rookie.
And while the 27-year-old Glendale resident, who’s been fighting at the pro level since 2005, may be too established in his ways to ever reinvent himself completely, he’s wholeheartedly embraced a theme of career rebirth.
“There’s a lot of things we’re working on; it’s a learning process,” Martirosyan said after battering Mario Alberto Lozano for 10 rounds en route to a unanimous decision to claim the vacant World Boxing Organization Intercontinental light middleweight title Friday night at Morongo Casino and Resort in Cabazon. “I feel like I’m 1-0 tonight.”
In his first fight cornered by new trainer Joe Goossen, as well as his debut under the promotional banner of Goossen Tutor, Martirosyan (34-1-1, 21 knockouts) flashed a few new tricks, but mainly stuck to his tried and true weapons – an effective left jab leading into a variety of stinging right-hand deliveries that worked to perfection against the overmatched Lozano.
All three judges scored the fight 100-89 in favor of Martirosyan, as did the News-Press. The bout was the main event on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights.”
Martirosyan promised a quick start in his first fight coming off of his first-ever professional loss on Nov. 9 to Demetrius Andrade, and didn’t disappoint. Lozano (27-5, 20 KOs) was rendered helpless against Martirosyan’s quick hands in the first round and within seconds his nose was trickling a stream of blood that flowed unabated throughout the bout.
Martirosyan, a former World Boxing Council and WBO light middleweight world title contender, continued to pick Lozano apart, opening him up with the left hand and putting the hurt on with heavy rights landed at will.
When a clean right cross put Lozano on his seat in the middle of the ring at the 1:15 mark of the second round, Martirosyan looked close to ending the affair early. He would close the round by bulling Lozano toward a corner and unloading a left uppercut, straight right and later a right uppercut that connected flush.
But the former USA Olympian couldn’t put Lozano out in the third round and the hard-nosed fighter out of Chihuahua, Mexico settled in over the fourth and fifth rounds, which were the closest of the fight, albeit still won handily by Martirosyan.
“I was trying to push the action, I wanted to make it more exciting for the fans,” said Martirosyan, who parted ways with the only other promotion he has known, Top Rank, following the loss to Andrade. “I wanted to throw more punches. I kind of let him off the hook a little bit, but he was a tough guy. He took really good punches.”
In the sixth round, Martirosyan and Lozano exchanged some big swings parallel to the ropes, but Martirosyan ended the round in control.
An overhand right by Lozano early in the seventh caught Martirosyan and seemed to prompt a more aggressive stance that saw Martirosyan close the round on the offensive and take complete control of the fight. As he wore Lozano down with precision, Lozano gamely continued to work his way inside and succeeded in connecting now and then, but paid for it as Martirosyan would routinely answer with combos.
“I got hit much more than I wanted to, but I was just trying new things,” Martirosyan said. “Joe told me to go out there and be natural, but at the same time we were trying new things.”
Since switching trainers, from longtime handler Freddie Roach to Goossen, Martirosyan has added a body shot to his arsenal. He had success with it at times, such as when he landed left and right hooks to the midsection to open Lozano up for a big right hand to the jaw in the fifth round.
With the fight all but won on the scorecards, Martirosyan didn’t shrink from pressing the fight in later rounds, pummeling Lozano in the center of the ring in the eighth as the pro-Martirosyan crowd sensed a knockout.
“At the end, I was trying to [knock him out],” Martirosyan said. “The guy was tough; he has 22 knockouts, so I had to be careful at the same time. We were trying to get a knockout, but he has a hard head.”
Martirosyan’s win closed the “Friday Night Fights” telecast of the event, but Martirosyan’s younger brother, Vatche, closed the house show with a third-round technical knockout of Gustavo Lopez (0-2-1) as the final swing bout of the night.
Vatche Martirosyan (3-0, two KOs) was drawn into the unruly pace of the fight set by Lopez in the first two rounds, which saw plenty of wild haymakers lobbed and clumsy staggering clinches.
But Vatche Martirosyan refocused and put Lopez down twice on counterpunches in the third before launching into an attack in the corner that hastened the end.
“My brother’s explosive,” Vanes Martirosyan said.” He’s like a pit bull, he’s a good fighter. He did good tonight, I’m proud of him.”