Stars are Aligned for Vanes Martirosyan
Posted by Igor Frank on 09.10.2008
My trip to Houston to cover a slugfest between Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis included an extra added bonus of meeting a super welterweight prospect from Glendale, California Vanes Martirosyan. The 2004 US Olympic representative moved to Houston about a year ago to avoid distractions in California and to be able to reach another level in his professional career.
Vanes was born on May 1st, 1986 in a town called Abovyan in then Soviet Armenia.
His father is a patriot and got part of his hand blown off in a war with Azerbaijan.
The whole family moved to California in search of a better life when Vanes was only four years old. His father, a military man and a strong disciplinarian, made sure that once he brought Vanes to the boxing gym that he stayed there. Vanes grew up to be a very nice young man, respectful, polite, the kind that would help an old lady to cross the street and that is the product of good family upbringing.
Vanes "The Nightmare "Martirosyan got his nickname way before he turned professional. Obscure in the amateur ranks, Vanes ripped through the Western Olympic trials destroying several highly ranked national boxers to earn a spot on 2004 U.S. Olympic team. The young Nightmare underdog defeated several current champions during those trials, such as current WBC light welterweight champion Timothy Bradley and WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto. He would then go into history records as the first ever Armenian to represent the United States of America in the Olympics as well as the first ever U.S. Olympian from Glendale, California.
In order to succeed in business one has to have the right circumstances and to surround himself with the right people. This cliché could not be truer for boxing.
Vanes met Shelly Finkel, one of the top boxing managers in the business, while he was still an amateur. Vanes told me that Shelly spent thirty thousand dollars on tickets to have his family and friends attend the events at the Olympics in Athens Greece. Shelly Finkel treats Vanes like a son; he has not charged the young man any fees, yet 20 fights into his professional career Martirosyan is making six figures a year from his TV fights.
Martirosyan, upon his return from Olympics, signed a promotional contract with Bob Arum of Top Rank and turned professional in early 2005. Employing the services of Bob Arum, who is by the way to receive a life time achievement award at a World Boxing Hall of Fame Banquet on November 15th in Los Angeles, was another very good move.
Bob is the top man when it comes to developing fighters and bringing out the best in them, case in point careers of Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Miguel Cotto and Kelly Pavlik. The deal was signed at the MGM grand in Las Vegas and another red hot prospect entered the picture in a talent rich super welterweight division.
"This is a major signing for us," said Arum:" We think Vanes is a tremendous talent and a future star, and we have big plans for him."
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach was brought in to help Martirosyan to learn professional boxing game and to improve on his skills. Vanes spoke very highly of his trainer and the gym:" Freddie is like a god and Wild Card Gym is like a church of boxing," said young prospect, referring to limitless opportunities for sparring. Vanes told me about sparring with great Bernard Hopkins and ex super welterweight champion Roman Karmazin. Any day at the Wild Card one might run in to Sugar Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya, and Manny Pacquiao or even ring Master James Toney. Vanes cherished his learning opportunities and his progress as a professional seemed very smooth at first. But fame has its pit falls that are sometimes very hard to deal with for a young man. Vanes could not walk on the streets of Glendale without somebody wanting to party with him or wanting to have a piece of him. On the other hand Freddie was training one super star after another which allowed him less time for young prospect, who started to feel directionless. In April of 2007 Vanes got his wake up call. With less training and more partying and less attention from Freddie because of preparation of De La Hoya for his mega fight, young Martirosyan entered the ring against Nelson Estupinan. Before long Vanes found himself on the canvas in shock, luckily he was able to get up and finish his opponent before the end of the second frame. Vanes and his team had to reevaluate. They decided that Vanes needed more individual attention from the trainer and picked Ronnie Shields to help him get back on the right track, which meant moving to Houston, another added bonus to get away from distractions in Los Angeles.
His father, Norik has asked a friend to help young Vanes to get an apartment and to settle in Houston; instead Dr. Albrik Nazarian talked to his wife and decided to open his house for a young man." The boy will be lonely in the apartment," said Albrik to his father: "Let him stay with us. I will watch over him." In the past year Dr. Nazarian has become a father figure to Vanes; he makes sure that he trains and eats right, keeps him away from distractions and teaches him the philosophy of life. Vanes showed a lot of respect and admiration for his mentor.
Meanwhile in the gym at the Savannah Boxing Club, Ronnie Shields spends a lot of time with young Martirosyan improving his skills. There is a good environment at the gym conducive to training hard and learning: among his stable mates are Juan "Baby Bull "Diaz and Rocky Juarez, who has just registered impressive victories in their home town. I watched Vanes rooting for them as though they were his brothers.
"The main thing he taught me is how to use my jab," said Vanes of his new trainer: "He says everything starts with the jab."
Vanes told me he would like to fight Alfredo Angulo soon. I have been following the progress of this Mexican Olympian who has been knocking out opponents with great regularity and expressed my concern about his strength and skills. Vanes told me with a confidence of a real champion: "I can out box him easy."
So all the stars are aligned for Vanes Martirosyan: he has confidence, skills, great manager, great promoter, great trainer and a wonderful mentor; it is time to shine.
On September 19th, 2008 Martirosyan (20-0,13KO) is scheduled to face undefeated Mexican super welterweight banger Michael Medina (18-0-2,14KO) at the Buffalo Bill's Star Arena in Primm, Nevada. A ten round contest will be televised on Telefutura, do not miss it.
Igor Frank is a boxing writer for the Burbank Times and a regular contributor to 411mania.com.