A strange sound has been emanating from Vanes "Nightmare" Martirosyan's camp over the past weeks — silence.
Never one to shy away from talking trash or baiting opponents, the Glendale resident has maintained a decidedly low public profile since his World Boxing Council light middleweight final eliminator bout with Erislandy Lara became a done deal. So what happened to the fighter who had spent months calling out Lara and other top fighters in the 154-pound division, once even promising in an interview to break Lara's ribs and send him to the hospital?
Martirosyan shed some light on his recent media blackout when he broke that silence on Monday for an exclusive interview with the Glendale News-Press to address Saturday's 12-round main event of HBO Boxing After Dark card from the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas that will mark his first return to action in over a year.
"All the trash talking on my part was to get a big fight," Martirosyan said. "I landed a big fight and now I'm just going to put up and not talk more trash, that's why I haven't said anything to nobody."
Martirosyan (32-0, 20 knockouts) has indeed landed himself a big fight, by all signs the biggest yet of his seven-year pro career, both in terms of stakes and the quality of his opponent. Lara brings in a record of 17-1-1 with 11 knockouts and is the No. 1 contender to the WBC title currently held by Saul Alvarez. A win over the dangerous southpaw would not only provide Martirosyan, the No. 2 contender, with a signature win critics often claim his career resume lacks, but put him next in line for his first world title.
Lara, a 29-year old Cuban defector who fights out of Miami, has been on a fast track to stardom in the division after making his pro debut in 2008 and didn't suffer the first blemishes on his record until 2011 when he battled Carlos Molina to a draw on March 25 and then lost by majority decision to Paul Williams on July 9 in what is still considered one of the most controversial decisions of all-time and since resulted in the suspension of all three judges involved.
Since then, Lara has been sharp in his only two fights of 2012, destroying Ronald Hearns in 90 seconds on April 20 before claiming a 10-round unanimous decision over Freddy Hernandez on June 30.
"He's ready to go, it's just another fight," Lara's manager, Luis DeCubas, Jr., said while translating for Lara in an interview. "Every fight's important to him and he's in great shape, he's ready to rock and roll and Nov. 10 he's going to come out with guns blazing."
Martirosyan, who has been training at Wild Card Boxing Club with Freddie Roach, as well as with strength and conditioning coach Roma Kalantaryan at Glendale's Main Even Gym, claims to be in top shape, as well, after an extra long training camp that came about when his July 7 fight against Ryan Davis was called off at the last minute.
"I feel great, I've never been ready for a fight like I am for this one," said Martirosyan, who last fought on Oct. 29, 2011 in a 10-round unanimous decision over Richard Gutierrez. "We had a camp for the last fight and it fell through, so we just went right back to camp. It was a long camp, it was a good camp."
Both fighters are known for their hand and foot speed, but Martirosyan may have his hands full trying to combat Lara's accuracy and power, as well as his southpaw stance. An apparent blueprint for beating Lara would be his draw against Molina, in which Lara seemed to struggle with Molina's pressure and inside game, but Martirosyan seems determined to outbox Lara.
"Lara's a good boxer, but I feel like I'm a better boxer than he is and Saturday night we're going to show that," Martirosyan said. "A lot of people have been telling me I should brawl with him, but that's the kind of fight he wants. I'm going to go out there and show him who the better boxer is."
Kalantaryan said that Martirosyan will use his physical advantages to get through Lara if he tries to keep the fight on the outside.
"When he gets caught with these punches, he's going to realize he's in a different kind of fight than he's ever been in," Kalantaryan said. "He's too short for Vanes to stay outside. Vanes has the height advantage and the speed, he's going to win the fight."
Added Martirosyan: "I think that's going to be the difference in the fight, having Roma and having that strength and conditioning."
DeCubas countered that Lara will be the one keeping Martirosyan on the defensive, forcing him to adapt as Lara dictates the action.
"Come [Saturday], Vanes is going to have to adapt to whatever [Lara] wants to do whether we fight him on the outside or the inside or whatnot," he said. "The only thing he's worried about is the fight. He doesn't worry about talking, he doesn't worry about trying to pump himself up like Vanes has to do, [Lara] is a real fighter, he fights the day of the fight, he's going to get in the ring and let the hands do the talking."
Lara is trained by Ronnie Shields, Martirosyan's former trainer for several years before Martirosyan reunited with Roach in 2009. Shields recently went on record saying Martirosyan hasn't progressed much as a fighter and will be outclassed by Lara on Saturday.
"Ronnie's a great trainer, I respect him," Martirosyan said, "but Saturday night is my night and I think he's going to regret some of the things he said after the fight.
"I know how [Shields] works. He likes to put on pressure, but Lara's not that type of a fighter. ...Whatever [Shields] wants to do with Lara, I'm ready for anything."firstname.lastname@example.org