2013 was a bit of a lost year for Steve Martinez, the Bronx resident who fights tonight (Thursday) at the Millenium Theater in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, on a card promoted by Dmitriy Salita.
Martinez, age 24, didn't fight a single time, due to that old standby, promotional-managerial issues. "But I got that resolved, it's a new chapter, and hopefully by the end of the year, I'll be contending," he told me.
Sporting a 13-1 record, with 10 KOs, Martinez gloves up against 9-13 Rahman M. Yusubov, an Uzbeki living in Texas who lost a UD6 to Kassim Ouma (Dec. 2013) in his last outing.
"I've seen a couple YouTube clips of him," he said. "I'm not the type that studies alot...he's aggressive at times, durable. He fights prospects, and lasts rounds."
Wisely, I think, Martinez sounds like he's not wanting to make up for lost time, and stating that he'll gun for a KO to make a splashy ring return. He says we will see an improved fighter from the one who dropped a stepup bout, to Denis Douglin, in Jan. 2012, including a newfound understanding that he needs to win rounds conclusively, and take it out of the hands of the judges.
That SD8 loss, he says, is a win in his mind, but regardless, he says that he has tweaked his game, and that will show in an increased use of the jab, and more body work. Better defense, and better footwork are also on his to do list. He says we won't be seeing rust on his shoulder in BK, and that he still digs the sport.
"This is what I love," said the Bronx resident who lives with mom and dad, and is pursuing certification in plumbing. He happily reported that he is co-promoted now by Salita, and Roy Jones' Square Ring, so, he thinks, he will get a proper push if he does what he knows he can in the ring.
Martinez celebrated his 24th birthday Saturday, and wants his wish to pay off at the Millenium, with a victory. I suspect that will make up for not getting to scarf down birthday cake, so he can make junior middleweight. Such are the slings and arrows the fighter must endure...
Disclosure: The writer will be working this card, doing analysis for a broadcast to run on delay, on the Universal Sports Network.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV