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'Nightmare' in New York City

Boxing: Martirosyan meets biggest challenge yet in undefeated foe on stage packed with history, prestige. His 154-pound title are at stake.

June 04, 2010|By Gabriel Rizk
(Roger Wilson/News-Press )

GLENDALE — Vanes "Nightmare" Martirosyan and "Mean" Joe Greene hail from opposite coasts, but hardly come from different worlds and the two undefeated junior middleweight contenders, both 24, have a lot more in common than meets the eye.

Martirosyan, who fights out of Glendale by way of Yerevan, Armenia, and Greene, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native who fights out of Jamaica, Queens, carved out identical paths toward promising professional careers by shooting up through the amateur ranks and faring well in the same United States Olympic trials in 2004.

That's where their courses diverged, as Martirosyan was the only one of the two to make it to Athens, an opportunity he parlayed into a contract with Top Rank Promotions and the services of star trainer Freddie Roach, with the rest being, as they say, history.

But both have gone on to equally impressive professional careers and now the fighters' paths are about to meet head on, as they are set to open the HBO World Championship Boxing live broadcast of Saturday night's "Stadium Slugfest" at the new Yankee Stadium as the co-main event for the World Boxing Assn. super welterweight fight between Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman.

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It will be the first boxing event in the ballpark that opened in 2009. The former Yankee Stadium, which closed in 2008, was home to some of the biggest prizefights in boxing history, most notably the second meeting between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling on June 22, 1938. Rocky Marciano had several classic bouts there and many other greats fought within its confines, including Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson and Rocky Graziano.

On the line in the 10-round bout set to begin at 7:15 p.m. will be Martirosyan's NABF and NABO 154-pound titles, but the biggest prize is likely the undefeated record that the victor will carry forward.

"It's a good matchup," Martirosyan (27-0, 17 knockouts) said. "I've had a lot of good sparring in the gym and we're ready for Joe. I know Joe very well and it's my time.

"[My trainers], they see me in the gym, they see how good I can be and what I can do. In the fights, nobody has ever seen that. I'm just really excited because, for the first time, I'm gonna go out there and give 110%, rather than people seeing 70% or 60% of Vanes, and I'm happy that it's going to be on HBO for the world to see."

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