Tasked with headlining the first-ever DAZN show from his home country, Sandor Martin rose to the occasion in a big way.
The streaking junior welterweight thoroughly outboxed England’s Joe Hughes over 12 rounds Thursday evening at Pabellón de la Vall d'Hebron in Barcelona, Spain.
Scores were 119-109 twice and 117-111 in favor of Barcelona’s Martin, who has now won seven straight.
Martin struggled to cope with the aggressive Hughes in the early rounds but eventually settled into a groove. Hughes’ intent was to smother the local favorite, the only way he knows how to fight and which has limited his career progress even if always making for entertaining fights.
On this particular night, it made for a relatively predictable challenger for Martin, who was making the first defense of the European (EBU) junior welterweight title he claimed just four months ago in his Barcelona hometown. By round three, he had Hughes’ timing down and was able to counter the onrushing Brit.
Martin picked up the pace in round five, sharpshooting Hughes from long range while fighting on his back foot and largely behind his right jab. It hardly discouraged his stubborn challenger, as Hughes immediately closed the gap at the start of round six. The stocky challenger charged forward, shoving a purposeful jab in Martin’s face and landing enough right hands to put his southpaw foe on the move.
Martin swung momentum back in his favor in round seven, taking the fight to Hughes before reestablishing his desired long-range distance. Hughes spent much of the frame stalking the Spaniard, but without the same success he enjoyed in the preceding round.
Hughes was forced to throw up earmuff defense at the start of the second half as Martin thoroughly outworked the visiting opponent. The southpaw invested heavily to the body, catching Hughes with right hooks down low before coming back up top with sharp left hands.
The pattern would hold true for the balance of the fight. With each passing round, Martin grew in confidence and bravery, no longer boxing from a distance but instead closing the gap and dialing up the aggression. The championship rounds saw the local favorite go on the attack, a knockout never seemingly on the horizon but also not discouraging the red hot southpaw from closing the show in style.
Hughes entered the night having won his lone bout on the road, a hard fought 12-round decision to Andrea Scarpa last November in Florence, Italy. The feat was followed with a competitive points loss to countryman Robbie Davies Jr. this past March, and now having lost two in a row in falling to 17-5-1 (7KOs).
Martin continues to put plenty of distance between his last loss and current form, as he advances to 36-2 (13KOs). Seven wins in a row have followed a 12-round defeat to then-unbeaten Anthony Yigit in Sept. 2017.
The bout aired live on DAZN, marking the debut for Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing Spain after having established the company’s brand through promotional outfits in the United Kingdom and United States.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com, Twitter: @JakeNDaBox