NEWARK, New Jersey – Joey Spencer wouldn’t allow James Martin to ruin his perfect record, too.
Spencer got off to a strong start and fended off Martin’s minor rally in the middle rounds to win their eight-round junior middleweight match by unanimous decision Saturday night at Prudential Center.
Judges James Kinney (80-72), John McKaie (79-73) and John Signorile (79-73) all scored their fight by wide distances for Spencer (13-0, 9 KOs), of Linden, Michigan.
Martin (7-3, 0 KOs), who upset previously unbeaten Vito Mielnicki Jr. three months ago, was scheduled to meet Mielnicki in an immediate rematch Saturday night, but Martin was way overweight Friday and agreed to instead face Spencer in the first fight FOX televised.
Philadelphia’s Martin replaced Dan Karpency as Spencer’s opponent following their weigh-in Friday. Spencer owned a five-pound weight advantage against Martin because Martin came in at 151½ pounds for what was supposed to be a second straight fight with Mielnicki.
Unlike his victory over Mielnicki, Martin didn’t land nearly enough punches versus Spencer to pull off a second straight upset.
Martin pressed the action in the eighth round, when a seemingly fatigued Spencer was less active than he had been in previous rounds.
Spencer ate Martin’s right hand to land two lunging left hooks of his own early in the seventh round. Martin landed a right hand and backed Spencer into the ropes just before the seventh round ended.
Martin’s overhand right connected early in the sixth round. Spencer landed a right and Martin hit him with a left simultaneously later in the sixth round.
A left hook by Spencer moved Martin backward early in the fifth round, which amounted to a competitive three minutes.
Spencer, backed against the ropes, clipped Martin with a counter right hand toward the end of the sixth round.
Martin and Spencer traded left hooks as they stood in the center of the ring in the fourth round. Martin pressured Spencer thereafter and landed a right hand.
An aggressive Martin was more successful in that fourth round than he had been in any of the first three rounds.
Spencer’s hand speed and defensive prowess won him the third round. He backed up Martin with a left hook in that round, which made Martin switch to a southpaw stance in hopes of landing clean shots on Spencer.
Spencer caught Martin with lead right hands three times during the second round. A lunging left hook by Spencer moved Martin backward during the second round as well.
Spencer mostly slipped Martin’s punches in the second round.
A left hook by Spencer knocked Martin off balance in the opening minute of theif fight. Spencer landed the harder punches for the remainder of the first round as well.
Seven rounds later, Martin suffered his third professional defeat.
Martin had hoped to score another win against Mielnicki, the Roseland, New Jersey, resident who wanted to avenge his loss in front of his hometown fans. The unheralded Martin upset Mielnicki by majority decision in an eight-rounder FOX aired April 17 from Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
The 24-year-old Martin couldn’t meet the contracted weight of 147 pounds, though, and agreed Friday morning to instead fight one of Mielnicki’s stablemates, Keeshawn Williams. Mielnicki and Williams switched opponents, as Mielnicki agreed to fight Noah Kidd in FOX’s co-feature Saturday night.
Martin was asked after weighing in Friday afternoon with Williams, however, to fight Spencer in FOX’s opener. Spencer’s original opponent, Karpency, refused to fight Spencer because Spencer came in 2½ pounds over their contracted weight of 154 pounds.
Karpency (9-3-1, 4 KOs), of Adah, Pennsylvania, met his contractual obligation by stepping on the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board’s scale at 153½ pounds. Williams (7-0-1, 2 KOs), of Lanham, Maryland, was left without an opponent to fight Saturday night.
Spencer fought for the first time Saturday night after having two pins inserted into his right hand during a surgical procedure late in February.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.