New York, NY -- Undefeated lightweight prospect Ryan "Blue Chip" Martin (8-0, 4 KOs) will be fighting under much brighter lights this Saturday night in a non-televised fight on HBO World Championship Boxing, featuring the world light heavyweight unification headliner between living legend Bernard Hopkins and Russian knockout specialist Sergey Kovalev, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Martin, a 12-time national amateur champion from Chattanooga who now fights out of Cleveland, faces a much more experienced opponent and toughest test of his young professional career, Mexican invader Martin "Marciano" Cardona (17-3, 12 KOs), in a scheduled six-round bout.
"I'm excited because I feel like I've earned my way to be on these events," 21-year-old Martin spoke about fighting on such a high-profile card. "I've been working extremely hard since I was a young boy. HBO is considered the leader in sports and I consider myself a soon-to-be leader in the division. I've competed and have been among the best in the nation since I was a kid. I'm eager to showcase my skills in front of (HBO boxing executive) Peter Nelson again. Hopefully, we create more opportunities like this. (Note: Nelson sat ringside next to Martin's promoter, 50 Cent, on Dec. 20 in New York City and watched Martin knockout Eric Goodall in the first round.)
"I don't have a relationship with Hopkins; however, I became a big fan of his after he lost a disputed decision to Jermain Taylor when they fought for the undisputed world middleweight championship. Taylor was one of my favorite fighters. He used to give me words of advice when I was an amateur. It's cool to see Hopkins still beating up people at 49 and Taylor looks like he recovered from his injuries and is healthier. I wish the best for both of these guys."
Martin followed his older brother, Courtney, to a gym for the first time at the age of eight and he instantly fell in love with boxing. A self-described boxer-puncher with speed clearly his greatest attribute, Martin is also surprisingly composed beyond his years in the ring, where he often explodes like his idol, Sugar Ray Leonard.
His gold-medal performance at the prestigious U.S. Under-19 Tournament marked the highlight of his outstanding amateur career, which included action in several European cities including Berlin, Paris and London.
Martin was immediately placed on a fast track by his promoter, 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson). Saturday night will mark Ryan's ninth professional fight in only 14 months, since his much-anticipated professional debut, September 16, 2014 in New York City, in which he stopped Darus Somieari in the second round at Resorts World Casino NYC.
"Staying active has always been stressed to me by 50 Cent and my management team," Martin explained. "They want me comfortable under the sports brightest lights, so, that's what we are doing, remaining consistent by competing and training as hard as possible. We plan to close out the year with at least one more fight in December.
Martin steps up in terms of the level of his opponent against 23-year-old Cardona, who won his first 17 pro fights before losing last year in France to 18-0 Roman Jacob for the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) super featherweight title.