Coming off an eye-opening win over Michel Rivera, Frank Martin had entered the conversation as one of the serious contenders in the lightweight division. It wasn’t just that he won.

It was the one-sided nature of the Rivera victory that really stood out. It left the audience wondering what was next.

Artem Harutyunyan was what was next. In the long run, the resistance Harutyunyan provided in a clever performance may do more for Martin than another half dozen wins like Rivera. 

While his professional resume was limited, and he was largely unknown in the US, Harutyunyan displayed that the Olympic bronze medal he earned at the 2016 Olympics was a clue to his quality. He might have been slower than Martin but Harutyunyan used smart timing, long arms, and anticipation to find Martin where he was going to be often in the first half to build a lead.

On the official cards, based on the live reporting from Showtime, Martin swept the final four rounds on all official cards. Having won by a single point on one card and three on the other, that shakes out to scores of 6-6 and 7-5 on rounds. The difference on the 6-6 card was a result of Martin’s relentless attack late as Harutyunyan elected to take a knee in the final round.

That still means Harutyunyan was well ahead on all three cards through eight rounds. Martin had to find a way to win with his back to the wall. 

And he did.

That’s something to build on. That’s something to learn from.

Futures: Lightweight is as loaded as it gets and Martin remains firmly in the mix, now with a step toward fighting for a WBC belt with a win in what was an eliminator. Finding out what happens when defeat is creeping up on a fighter is significant and Martin showed he can find the gear he needs. In a division with guys like Devin Haney, Tank Davis, and Vasyl Lomachenko, getting there before a fighter is absolutely ready is to their detriment. The Harutyunyan fight showed Martin still has plenty of room to grow and can only enhance his confidence in what he’s capable of going forward.

For Harutyunyan, the loss may have improved his chances for a more enriching career. His post-fight interview was honest and even a little endearing. He’s a solid professional and should be welcomed back for another chance when his left eye, badly swollen as the fight wore on, heals up.

Martin wasn’t the only lightweight who got some shine this weekend.

Cruz Debuts

Among highly touted young lightweights, Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis has emerged as perhaps the bluest chip prospect in the game. Saturday, he got some competition there from the last man to defeat him.

Cuba’s Andy Cruz won Olympic gold at Davis’s expense and made his pro debut against former title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos. Cruz showed speed, footwork, elusiveness, reflexes, and style in winning a near shutout over ten rounds. Outside of a knockout, it would have been hard to ask for much more from Cruz as he embarks on what is clearly intended to be an accelerated move through the ranks. 

Futures: Cruz can go to the body more and sit down on his shots a bit as his paid career unfurls, but the skills and talent on display last weekend are already a handful for a whole lot of the lightweight division. Assuming Cruz can catch, he’s got the potential to be a significant piece of a picture that will span from lightweight to welterweight over the coming years. Get on the train early.        

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at