By the time he first got his new client in the gym, trainer Joe Goossen only had three weeks to get Vanes "Nightmare" Martirosyan ready for Friday night's title fight against Mario Alberto Lozano. Yet Goossen never had a sense the training camp was running behind schedule.
"We accomplished a lot in that three weeks and the reason we were able to accomplish so much is because Vanes came to me in very good condition," Goossen said. "I think he had dedicated himself to getting physically fit to be ready to go fight and he spent a lot of time in the gym doing a lot of running, swimming and physical training outside the gym. It would have been much different if he were not working before he came to me, but because he was, it made the transition very easy."
If Martirosyan (33-1-1, 21 knockouts) sounds motivated, he has good reason to be. It's a time of unprecedented transition for the 27-year-old Glendale resident, whose career path has already had its share of plot twists, and he's got considerable incentive to make it all work. The future of his career depends on it.
Martirosyan's first professional loss in November to Demetrius Andrade put an end to a forgettable 2013 calendar year in which he faced – and lost to – just one notable opponent in two outings and saw his World Boxing Council light middleweight contender status wither on the vine as promoter Top Rank struggled to find a market for him.
An end to his nearly nine-year partnership with Top Rank soon followed the loss before Dan Goossen stepped in to sign Martirosyan to Goossen Tutor Promotions, where he will look to reignite his world title bid beginning with Friday's 10-round clash for the vacant World Boxing Organization Inter-Continental light middleweight title.
The main-event bout will be televised live from Morongo Casino in Cabazon on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights," which begins at 6 p.m. PDT.
Martirosyan claims he came out on the short end of a split decision in the WBO light middleweight title match versus Andrade because he didn't perform to his fullest abilities. But he also suggests that the recent dip in his career arc had a lot to do with getting less than 100% backing from Top Rank and his previous trainer, Freddie Roach.
"It feels good to be put first and not third, fourth or fifth on the list as far as the promotion and the training goes," said Martirosyan, who now adds Joe Goossen to a list of well-respected veteran boxing trainers he has been linked with, one that includes Roach, Ronnie Shields and, for a very brief stint in 2011, Buddy McGirt. "I feel really good and I feel like a pro for the first time in my career.
"As soon as we walked into Dan's office we felt the energy and it was natural fit. And working with Joe, everything has been different; I've never sparred 15 rounds in my life."
The Goossen Tutor era for Martirosyan was supposed to begin with a fight against WBC Latino champ Luciano Cuello, but Cuello pulled out of the matchup, reportedly out of dissatisfaction with the purse.
Instead Martirosyan gets the 26-year-old Lozano, who was a unanimous decision loss to Charles Hatley on Nov. 7 away from entering this fight on a streak of 10 straight wins. He's still on an overall solid run, with wins in 19 of his last 21, although he rarely strays far from his native Chihuahua, Mexico to fight.
"He's a fighter; he kind of reminds me of [Juan Manuel] Marquez, the way he throws his punches," Martirosyan said. "He's going to come to fight, I'm sure. He's young, also, so this is his time for him. We've got to be on our 'A' game. It's going to be a good fight."
Lozano (28-4, 22 KOs), an accurate puncher with dangerous knockout power, said he will look to test Martirosyan early, but will adapt his approach as the fight goes on.
"We're trying to be the first one to throw punches and go forward and be very smart," Lozano said. "He's a tough fighter; he throws two or three punches, but hard punches. My style, [whether] counter-punching or going forward, is going to depend on how Vanes fights."
If Martirosyan's past few fights are any indication, the longer Lozano can draw out the fight, the better for him.
Martirosyan put Andrade down in the first round before his work rate began to decline rapidly from round to round to the point where Andrade looked to be the clear winner on points before the surprising split verdict came down. And in his Nov. 2012 WBC eliminator bout against Erislandy Lara, the scorecards were split and Martirosyan was still very much searching for a way to take control by the time a Lara head butt ended that fight in a technical draw in the ninth.
"I don't want to say aggressively, but fighting more effectively in the beginning is going to be the key," Martirosyan said. "We want to be more effective rather than box more."
Joe Goossen has also made some tweaks to Martirosyan's arsenal and approach for this fight, trying to get him to close the distance and develop a better inside game and go to the body more.
"He's got an A-plus right hand," Joe Goossen said. "Guys that have such good right hands sometimes tend to depend on them maybe a little bit more than balancing out the attack on both sides and I think that's what we worked on.
"He's got really educated legs; he's very smart on his feet," Goossen added. "He took to my type of training, which can be very intensive. It's always great when the personalities mesh and I think our personalities work hand in glove."