The celebrated pro debut of the gifted former amateur standout lived up to its billing, as Martinez outboxed Ryan Burrs in scoring a unanimous decision Tuesday evening at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Judges Max DeLuca, Patricia Morse Jarman and Richard Ocasio all scored the contest 40-36 in favor of Martinez in their four-round middleweight bout.
Martinez was originally due to make his pro debut on the June 30 edition of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN, only for his intended opponent to fall through too close to fight night to secure a replacement. The two-week delay only made him that much more eager to make a statement.
The opening round saw both boxers fight through nervous energy. Martinez consistently scored with a winging left hand out of the southpaw stance, though rarely using his jab to precede the power shot. Burrs did his best to make things uncomfortable, inching his way inside to land chopping right hands.
Martinez continued his attack in round two. The 6’1” southpaw from Milwaukee was steady with long left hands, also catching Burrs with right hooks on the occasions the Frederick, Maryland native dropped his guard while within punching range. A left hand stopped Burrs in his tracks, though shaking off the blow and remaining upright.
Burrs continued to come forward in round three, making it all too convenient for Martinez to score with his power punches. The 24-year old made adjustments while working without the services of head trainer Jorge Capetillo, who tested positive for coronavirus and is currently quarantining at home in California. He fought through a bruised left eye—a reminder to tighten up his defense as he advances in his career—while locking in with his left hand both at close quarters and from the outside.
Martinez closed the show in style, connecting with right hooks and straight left hands throughout the fourth and final round to seal the deal. The lean newcomer outlanded Burrs 52-47 while also producing a higher connect rate, landing 32% of his 163 total punches compared to Burrs (2-2) landing 26% of his 183 punches according to Compubox.
The win ends a frustrating journey that—prior to his signing with Top Rank earlier this spring—included his being snubbed from the 2020 U.S. Olympic Boxing team. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has delayed the summer classic by a full year, with Team USA still in the process of finalizing the squad they will send overseas in 2021.
Martinez (1-0, 0KOs) merely had to wait two weeks for the next step in his boxing life.
The bout opened a four-fight telecast, headlined by the first-ever female main event on ESPN as Mikaela Mayer (12-0, 5KOs) faces Helen Joseph (17-4-2, 10KOs) in a 10-round junior lightweight contest.
Also on the card, Ruben Cervera picked up his first win on American soil, scoring a six-round decision over returning Bubble boxer Clay Burns.
Judge Lisa Giampa scored it 58-56 while judges Julie Lederman and Dave Moretti had the bout 59-54 in favor of Cervera in their junior lightweight prelim.
Cervera (12-2, 10KOs) ultimately rode a first-round knockdown all the way to the finish line, flooring Burns with a crisp left hook in the opening seconds of the contest. Fort Worth’s Burns shook off the blow and aggressively worked his way back into the fight, outworking the one-dimensional Colombia slugger in the middle rounds though never to the point of completely turning the tide.
The final round saw Cervera get back to basics, punching in combination as Burns’ face-first style proved to be his undoing. Both boxers landed 70 punches, Burns at a slightly higher connect rate (25% to 24%) but it was Cervera’s more telling blows which earned the victory after having lost in his two prior stateside appearances.
Burns (9-9-2, 4KOs) suffers his second loss in The Bubble, having dropped a six-round split decision to Reymond Yanong just three weeks ago.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox