Vanes Martirosyan’s career was essentially unblemished until a clash of heads resulted in its first imperfection. Now, 3½ years later, the fighter finally gets a chance to redeem himself.
The Armenia-born 2004 U.S. Olympian was 32-0 with 20 knockouts heading into his 154-pound title eliminator against Erislandy Lara in November 2012. The bout ended in a technical draw after an accidental headbutt caused a deep cut under Martirosyan's left eye 26 seconds into the ninth round.
“The cut was in his favor because I actually thought I was winning the fight,” Martirosyan said of the bout, which was scored 86-85 in his favor, 87-84 for Lara and 86-86 on the three judges’ cards.
“I thought I was more aggressive. I don’t know how he felt he was winning, bouncing around, running, landing a jab or two—that doesn’t get you the victory. It’s professional fighting, not the amateurs.”
Vanes Martirosyan (36-2-1, 21 KOs) gets a shot at redemption versus Erislandy Lara (22-2-2, 13 KOs) on Saturday night as part of a 154-pound championship tripleheader on Showtime (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) that also features Jermall Charlo (23-0, 18 KOs) defending his title against Austin Trout (30-2, 17 KOs), and Jermell Charlo (27-0, 12 KOs) battling John Jackson (20-2, 15 KOs) for a vacant crown.
After fighting Martirosyan, Lara, 33, went on to compete for an interim world title in his next bout, winning the championship with a 10th-round TKO of Alfredo Angulo in June 2013.
The Cuban southpaw was elevated to full champion in March 2014, and he has defended his title three times since then, in addition to losing a non-title bout to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in July 2014.
Meanwhile, Martirosyan has gone 4-2 since fighting Lara. He battled Demetrius Andrade for a vacant world title in November 2013, but lost a split decision after gaining a first-round knockdown. His other defeat came in March 2015, when he lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Jermell Charlo.
Now, Martirosyan looks to flip the script on Lara and gain the glory that he feels was denied him with the premature ending to their first meeting.
“The momentum I lost in our first fight, I’ll get it back in the rematch,” Martirosyan said. “Hopefully, I’ll see the best Lara, because he’s definitely going to see the best Vanes Martirosyan.
“I will have been training for more than 10 weeks by the time we enter the ring, and when the fight’s over, I’m going to be the winner, and he’ll be the loser with some very sore ribs.”
“ The momentum I lost in our first fight, I’ll get it back in the rematch. Hopefully, I’ll see the best Lara, because he’s definitely going to see the best Vanes Martirosyan. ” 154-pound title contender Vanes Martirosyan
A 30-year-old who fights out of Glendale, California, Martirosyan beat former world champion Ishe Smith by 10-round majority decision in his last fight in September, dropping Smith in the third and eighth rounds. Smith had previously lost to Lara by unanimous decision in December 2014.
Martirosyan attributes outside issues to his uneven performances in recent fights, most notably a forced change in trainers two weeks before taking on Charlo. But he says he will be at the peak of his powers when he sees Lara on Saturday.
“Lara’s a good fighter from a good background, and everybody’s in fear of him except me,” Martirosyan said. “When I beat him, everybody’s going to know that when I’m at my best, with no distractions and having the best camp, nobody can beat me.”
For a complete overview of Lara vs Martirosyan, visit our fight page.