Vanes Martirosyan took a bigger-than-a-baby step towards a title shot with a win over former champion Kassim Ouma at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The Freddie Roach trained Martirosyan, a 2004 Olympian, mixed his shots, moved smartly, and stayed focused on the way to a unanimous decision. The scores were 97-92, 97-93, 97-93 in the Top Rank live show which was broadcast on Fox Sports Net.
Vanes (now 27-0; of Armenian descent, lives in California; age 23) weighed 153 pounds. Ouma (26-7-1; from Uganda ; lives in Florida; age 31) was 150 pounds at the weigh in Friday.
The winner, who held onto the NABO and NABF titles, used a four inch height advantage to keep Ouma at bay, as the lefty looked to pop him with lead rights. The former junior middleweight champion is five years removed from his titlist days, and came in a loser in four of his last five matches.
Like all successful Roach trained boxers, Martirosyan combines effective aggression with timely movement. Usually, he got off, and got out of range. Ouma's lack of pop was something he could move through as a younger man, but as he gets older, and his mileage shows, it isn't as easy to outwork foes. He did manage to send Vanes to the mat in round nine, from a right hook counter in close. Ouma was landing one-twos, and making work Vanes work to counter, but the prospect generally reacted well.
In a division where many of the top 20 guys could beat each other on any given night, there's no reason Martirosyan doesn't get a title crack this year, and win a belt in 2010, or 2011. I'd bet on 2011; he may have to firewalk his way through a bout or two to really learn the breadth of his will, before he's ready to ascend to the tippy top of the division. Freddie will want him to tighten the D, because heavier handed guys will make him pay for lapses more than Ouma did. For Ouma, happily he's not gotten to the point where he comes in heavy, conceding defeat before the bout, and he's not yet taking a vicious pounding to the point where you wish he'd walk away. Yet...