By Thomas Gerbasi
Ryan Martin admits that he was a little stir crazy as a seemingly endless four-month training camp in Big Bear, California finally came to a close.
“It’s been quite a journey,” he laughs. “It’s very beautiful up there. But it’s very hard work.”
Martin finally made his way down the mountain, making weight for his Tuesday main event against Luis Eduardo Florez at The Avalon in Hollywood, and now he can finally get back to the fun part of this whole thing. He’s happy for that end of things, but as the kids say these days, he’s trusting the process, and the process to get to Tuesday night was four months with coach Abel Sanchez and his gang of killers.
When talking about it, Martin paused as he tried to find the right word to describe this camp with the likes of Gennady Golovkin and Murat Gassiev, but then he found it.
“It feels like I’ve been incarcerated,” Martin laughs. “But it’s been very good for my mind and body, I’m in good spirits. Being away from everything for this long has helped me focus more on my craft and what Abel has been teaching me. I do believe we’ve had some breakthroughs on some of my techniques and boxing ability. So the four months have been very good.”
He’s even picked up a little Russian up on the mountain.
“I’m learning a few words a day, and it’s fun interacting with them,” Martin said of his teammates. “I get to learn about their culture and they get to learn about me. We talk about our family and friends and how we grew up and stuff like that, so it’s very interesting and very fun. We talk about it often how there are so many enemies in the world because of culture, but we all live in this house together and we’re friends and we get along just fine.”
The 25-year-old’s maturity is evident from that statement alone, but if you want more proof, just take a look at his journey to this point, as he navigated the murky waters of the boxing business after a stellar amateur career that earned him the nickname “Blue Chip,” and is still approaching things with a fresh and positive attitude.
“In boxing, patience and timing is everything,” he said. “This sport is a marathon; it’s not a quick race. We put our bodies through hell every day, and fight night everything is exposed, so if you want to have a long and healthy career, you have to trust the people around you - your manager, your promoter, your trainer – to put you in the right spots. If that means you have to be patient a little longer than others, that’s okay. Everybody’s on a different path, and as long as you get to you get to your goal, that’s what’s important. Yes, I do get impatient some times, but when it’s all over, I’ll know it was good for me.”
So when fight dates got changed around and delayed after his September win over Francisco Rojo, he didn’t take the first opportunity to leave Big Bear. Instead, he buckled down for the long haul and took everything Sanchez taught him to heart.
“Some fighters can do this, some fighters can’t,” the Tennessee native said. “Some fighters will crack, being away from family and friends for so long. But I took the time to really figure some things out about how bad I really want it. I know how I need to improve after my last fight, and there’s the whole weight issue, so we’ll see how this one goes at a catchweight. But it depends on the fighter. A fighter like me, I’m very determined, I work hard and being around GGG and Gassiev and all the other top fighters up here just pushes me harder. Every day at Big Bear is hard work and if you can survive here for four months, you can survive anything.”
Surviving is one thing. Thriving is another, and in Sanchez and company, Martin has upped his game, both physically and mentally.
“Every day is a fight here in Big Bear, so we push ourselves to the max,” he said. “Creating openings, your ring IQ comes into play and I feel like Abel has got me to think more in the ring. I’m very proud to be working with him and I’m very proud to have him as my head coach.
“It’s very important because your head coach is the person who guides your ship and guides you in battle,” Martin continues. “From the outside, he sees what I can’t see. He’s a vet, he’s been in the game and has 17 world champions, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about.”
It makes Martin’s gig headlining 360 Boxing Promotions’ first event one attached to plenty of anticipation, because whether he stays at lightweight or moves to junior welterweight, the coming year should be one to watch.
“It has to be my year,” Martin said. “In boxing, the window you have is very small, so depending on my weight, if I decide to stay at 135, it has to happen this year. If I go up to 140, I have a little more leeway, then I have to work my way into the rankings. So far, right now, things are going real well with Abel. Our connection has been great. He’s more hands on with me and I love what he’s teaching me. He’s making me think more in the ring about my adjustments and what I should be doing each round. So this year has to be a big year.”