Boxer won't rest on laurels

GLENDALE — Hours after a dazzling, televised 10-round headlining debut on Thursday night, Vanes “Nightmare” Martirosyan wasn't in the mood to revel too much.

Shortly after defeating Michi Munoz (20-2, 13 KOs) via third-round technical knockout at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the unbeaten 21-year old Glendale resident dined at a restaurant on the Vegas strip before retiring to his hotel room early.

Before noon the next day, he was boarding a plane back to Houston to resume his intensive training regimen.

It's not that Martirosyan wasn't thrilled with the victory — one he termed his best performance as a professional fighter.

Any temptation to bask in its glory, however, is trumped by his unwavering focus on even bigger and better things ahead.

“[After dinner] I came back to the hotel and just went to bed,” the super welterweight said on Friday after landing in Houston. “I'm gonna stay focused until I've got the title.”

A muted celebration, to say the least, but Martirosyan (19-0, 13 KOs) provided plenty of excitement inside the ring on Thursday.

Taking on his most accomplished opponent to date, Martirosyan established his jab early, leading to a knockdown just over one minute into the first round.

“The plan for the first round was to jump on [Munoz] right away with a good jab,” Martirosyan said. “That's what we did — the guy can't fight going backwards.

“He rushed in and got hit with a check hook and he went down.”

Martirosyan's trainer, Ronnie Shields, said Martirosyan followed a carefully orchestrated game plan perfectly in stopping Munoz.

“At the beginning of the fight I told him, 'Let's wait to start throwing uppercuts at [Munoz] until the third round,'” Shields said.

Martirosyan accordingly kept his second-round attack consistent with that of the first round — jabbing to open up left-right combinations.

“[Over the first two rounds] we worked the body, everything except for uppercuts,” Martirosyan said. “Right when I started throwing uppercuts, that's when I got him out of there.”

Added Shields: “He started catching him and he hurt him with those uppercuts real bad.”

The fight was stopped with 42 seconds remaining in the third round, as Martirosyan cornered and began to pummel the bloodied Munoz.

“We train to go the distance and more — I could go 12 rounds, it doesn't matter to me,” Martirosyan said. “We prepared for 10 rounds, but if it's gonna end early, we'll take it.”

Ending bouts early has been one reason why Martirosyan has been able to fight four times in the last five months.

Martirosyan ended four of his six 2007 fights in or before the third round, including a 93-second knockout of Dan Wallace on Dec. 20.

Thursday's fight came less than five weeks after his unanimous six-round decision over Clarence Taylor in Los Angeles on Jan. 4.

Bill Caplan, who promotes Martirosyan for Top Rank, promises the ambitious schedule will continue and that Martirosyan will likely be back in the ring in late March.

“He's gonna take another step up in class [of opponent] because he looked so great,” said Caplan, who would like to see Martirosyan matched with a top-20 fighter in his next appearance. “His last two fights, he's just shown tremendous improvement.”

The prospect of bigger bouts and higher stakes is music to Martirosyan's ears.

“Top Rank does a good job of developing fighters and they're putting good fighters against me now,” he said. “They say they are gonna start putting better and better fighters in front of me and I'm all for that.”

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