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Vanes Martirosyan: “I'm calling out the champions. None of them are responding to me.”

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)

By Anson Wainwright


It’s been a frustrating last couple of years for Vanes "The Nightmare" Martirosyan. He only managed to see action once in 2010 and though he’s fought twice so far in 2011 and hopes to fight in the fall, he still can’t get what he craves most: a title shot in the light middleweight division. Martirosyan’s even called out WBA middleweight ruler Felix Sturm to no avail. Martirosyan, 25, boasts an impressive 30-0 (19) ledger since turning pro after a stellar amateur career that saw him represent America at the 2004 Olympics as an 18-year-old, only to lose to the eventual silver medalist. He’s currently ranked in the top three by three of the sanctioning bodies and is backed by powerful promoter Top Rank, who has high hopes for him. Hopefully, that title shot isn’t too far away.

Anson Wainwright – First, you last fought on June 4 in L.A at the Staples Center when you beat Saul Roman. What are your thoughts on that fight?

Vanes Martirosyan - It was a good fight for me. It was a good test. Roman is a tough fighter. He was in great shape, probably the best of his life. Going into the fight, there was a lot of stuff going on outside the ring. I went in there and dug deep, I went down in the first round, got up. I showed what I had taking him out in the seventh round and kept doing what I had to do.   
 
AW - As you say, you were down in the first in such an action-packed fight. How happy were you with your performance?
 
VM - I wasn’t happy with the performance but I was happy with the result. The performance could have been a lot better. 
 
AW - When can we expect to see you in action next?
 
VM - I don’t know. All the ’54-pounders don’t want to mention my name. I’ve been calling everybody out. Nobody will say my name. Nobody wants to fight. I don’t know what’s going on with the WBC where I’m the mandatory [challenger for Saul Alvarez] or anyone else. People are just avoiding me. I don’t know if I should go to middleweight. I even called out [WBA champion] Felix Sturm; he hasn’t responded. So I don’t know what’s going on. I have a manager I haven’t been talking to for weeks. I’m just waiting to see what’s going on. 

AW - You had fought in March when you stopped Bladimir Hernandez in two rounds. How did you think you performed after nine months out? 

VM - Bladimir was supposed to be a tune-up fight for me. He came in overweight so I was forced to go to middleweight ‘cause he couldn’t make weight. I needed rounds but he didn’t give me rounds. He went out early. It was a good fight though but it wasn’t what we wanted but it was OK.  

AW - Can you tell us about your team? Who is your manager, trainer and promoter? Also, where do you regularly train?

VM – Well, my trainer is Freddie Roach, then Alex Ariza is [my] strength-and-conditioning coach and Roma Kalantaryan and Edmond Tarverdyan help. But for the last two fights, it’s been Edmond and Freddie Roach. As far as manager…ah, like I said, we haven’t been talking for weeks. That’s all I can say. My promoter is Top Rank. I train at Wild Card, Freddie Roach’s gym. I also train at GFC Glendale Fight Club and right now, I’m getting ready to go to Main Events Sports Club. There both located in Glendale and Freddie’s gym is located in Hollywood, as everyone knows.      

AW - Can you tell us a little about what it’s like to be trained by Freddie and have guys like Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and now Jorge Linares all train at the same place?
 
VM - It’s a great experience. It’s a great feeling going into the gym full of champions. Having the best teacher in the game, ‘cause Freddie’s not a coach; he’s a teacher. He teaches you. He’s the most amazing person in boxing I’ve known, so loyal, so honest. That’s what I think makes Freddie Roach. He’s so honest and loyal. That’s what us fighters want is to be honest with and that’s what Freddie does. He’s honest. If you’re good, he’ll tell you. If you suck, he’ll tell you. That’s what helps you and makes you work harder and get better next time. 
 
AW - How long have you been with Freddie? 
 
VM - It’s funny because when I was a kid, I was 12 years old; I was training at Freddie’s gym and I wanted him to train me but he wouldn’t. I’d look at him and my dad would say, “I think he’s somebody big,” and I was like, “Yeah.” Then Freddie came to me and told me, “You go make the Olympic team and when you’re ready to go pro, I’ll be your coach.” So that’s exactly what I did. I make the Olympics and returned to Wild Card again. I wish Freddie was my coach then like he is with the Olympians now.      
 
AW - You were born in Armenia but moved to California. Can you tell us a bit about that journey and how things were for you growing up?
 
VM - I started boxing when I go to the USA. My father was a boxer in Armenia and came to the US and with the help of my uncle, Serge Martirosyan, who’s my dad’s brother. My dad’s name is Norik Martirosyan. They pushed me and helped me reach the top. I had friends who supported me and they still do. There were times I wanted to quit but through my uncle and friends, they helped me through that and pursue my goals and I’m grateful to them. I was four years old [when I arrived in America] and started boxing at seven. 
 
AW - You were a decorated amateur, fighting in the 2004 Olympics as a teenager. Can you tell us about that experience? Also, what other titles did you win in your amateur days? What was your final record?
 
VM - It was a great experience. I just wish I had Freddie Roach in my corner then. I think I’d have won a lot of medals. You know, it’s great. It’s the most amazing experience in the world, like winning a world title in the pros. I can’t explain it; you have to be there. When I was there, I was crying in the opening ceremony. It was like a dream come true seeing all the world come together.
 
I was an eight-time National Champion in the amateurs before going pro. I turned pro at 17. I won the Golden Gloves. I beat Austin Trout three times. I beat Timothy Bradley. I beat Andre Berto. I beat all those guys in the amateurs. I won the US box-offs, Western trials, Golden Gloves. I went all the way to the final of the Silver Gloves, the Showdown Champion a few times. I was unstoppable in the amateurs. I beat everyone I lost to except the Cuban [Writer’s Note: Martirosyan lost to Lorenzo Aragon at the 2004 Olympics]. I had 130 fights, 120 wins.  

AW - The light middleweight division is white-hot at the moment with several top fighters making a living there. What do you think of the division and the current champions, the WBC’s Saul Alvarez, the WBA’s Miguel Cotto, the IBF’s Cornelius Bundrage and the WBO’s Sergiy Dzinziruk?     

VM - I respect all those guys as fighters but I’m starting to not respect them as much because they don’t want to fight. Everybody’s looking for money fights, somebody to make money with. I’m calling all those guys and none of them are responding to me. It says something about them and I don’t think some of them are worthy of being champions. 
 
I sparred Sergiy Dzinziruk. I kicked his butt in sparring. I cut him up in three rounds. They stopped the sparring ‘cause he was bleeding. It was right before the [Daniel] Dawson fight last May. Angulo has come to the Wild Card. I’d love to fight him. I want to fight the best. I’m saying that I’m willing to do it and none of them are willing to step up. 
 
AW - You mentioned if the opportunity arose, you’d happily go up to middleweight. What about going the other way and dropping to welterweight?

VM – Oh, it would be too much, I think. I probably could do it if I put my mind to it, I just feel so strong at ‘54. I make the weight easy. I always come in a pound or two under. I don’t know it’s something to think about. As far as 160, I’d love to go to 160. I can do 160 or 154, no problem. I know I can beat some of those guys over there.  
 
AW - There are several Armenian fighters who are doing very well, Arthur Abraham and Vic Darchinyan, for example. Do you know them and what can you tell us about Armenian boxing?
 
VM- With Vic Darchinyan, I’m more close than I am with Arthur. Vic’s my boy. We talk with each other on the phone sometimes, every couple of weeks. Vic’s a great guy. I’m really close with him. Arthur Abraham, he came to Glendale, California and the first person he called was me. I was surprised. I was like, “Who’s this?” and he was like, “Hey, man, it’s my birthday. Come celebrate it with me.” I was like, “Who is it?” [and he said] “Arthur Abraham.” So I put a suit on and went and saw him. He’s a very nice guy, very humble. I’m also friends with his brother, Alex Abraham. They’re all good guys. We train together and wish each other the best. There’s other guys like Art Hovhannisyan, who’s undefeated. He fought on ESPN and there’s “Gapo” [Gabriel Tolmajyan, a featherweight who’s 10-1-1(3)]. There’s a lot of other fighters that will come up soon. As far as me, Vic and Arthur, we help each other. We’re like a hot-blooded culture. We like fights, you know. The Vic fight in Armenia, we’re working on some plans for me to go over and support my friend over there. 
 
AW - If you’re not boxing, what do you like to do with your spare time? What are your hobbies and interests?
 
VM - The last seven months, I’ve been taking care of my girl. We’re having a baby. I like fishing, going out, running, basketball, tennis, most athletic stuff. I watch a lot of movies with my girl. 
 
AW - Who was your hero growing up and why?
 
VM - I like Muhammad Ali. I actually like Oscar [De La Hoya] ‘cause he went to the Olympics and I love how he was at the beginning of his career. Guys like “Tito” Trinidad, guys like that who fought the best and didn’t care about losing. I respect them and looked unto them. Now the guy that I loved is the promoter of the guy I want to fight (Saul Alvarez) and he just won’t let him fight me! It sucks! (laughs) 
 
AW – Who do you like to watch today?

VM – Today, I love watching [Manny] Pacquiao fight. I love watching [Floyd] Mayweather fight. Those guys are the guys who keep reaching higher limits. It’s good to see them doing what other people aren’t. Some fighters are looking for money fights. These guys, yeah, they’re getting paid but they’re also putting on good shows. You have to respect that. I just hope Mayweather and Pacquiao get it on already. Right now, my favourite fighter is Pacquiao.
 
AW - What do you think happens if they fight?
 
VM - You know what I think? It’s a good fight. I think Mayweather can pull it off. I’m not [picking Pacquiao] ‘cause I’m with Freddie Roach. No, I think Mayweather is very smart and can pull off the victory and I think Manny Pacquiao can do the same. I think whoever comes in with the best game plan can win. I’ve always been a fan of Mayweather. It’s probably because when Mayweather went to the Olympics in ’96. he fought the same Cuban I fought in 2004, Lorenzo Aragon. I would love to spar with Manny too. I know I could drop Manny. One time, I remember Freddie was telling us that there was a thousand-dollar bounty on Manny’s head and I told him I’m gonna knock him out and he was like “You’re not sparring, then!” (laughs)
 
AW – Finally, do you have a message for your fans?
 
VM - I want to thank you for taking time to listen to the Interview. Keep supporting and following me on @Vanesboxing on Twitter and www.facebook.com/VanesMartirosyan on Facebook for my fight updates. Thanks for the support.


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