Hidden gem in FNF season debut?
January, 6, 2012
By Michael Woods | ESPN.com
I like Dyah Davis over Alfonso Lopez because of Davis' superior athleticism in the main event in tonight's "Friday Night Fights" 2012 debut. But I also like the Steven Martinez-Denis Douglin junior middleweight scrap to be a strong candidate to steal the show, which unfolds at Mallory Square in Key West, Fla., and will kick off on ESPN2 and ESPN3 at 9 p.m. ET.
I chatted with Martinez, a Bronx resident who is co-managed by ex-Arturo Gatti manager Pat Lynch and New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, late Thursday night. Martinez (11-0, 9 KOs) impressed me with his composure. Many guys wouldn't have agreed to do a phoner so close to their live TV debut, but the 21-year-old gave me 15 minutes.
I wanted to get a sense of how he viewed himself -- as a future superstar, a star or a work-in-progress -- to help gauge if he might be overcome by his first time on such a massive stage.
"I'm a prospect now, coming up," Martinez said. "But Friday night, fans are going to see a future star."
Douglin (13-1, 8 KOs) disagrees. Managed by heavyweight dealmaker Al Haymon, Douglin is known as "Da Momma's Boy" -- so named because his mother Saphya trains him.
Douglin, 23, has been champing at the bit for this tangle, but Martinez sounds confident that he'll handle the New Jersey fighter. It's a quiet confidence; Martinez doesn't even like to advertise that he's pretty close to ex-flyweight champ Ivan Calderon, who is the brother of Douglin's stepfather.
"Our fight could steal the show," said Martinez, who snagged three New York Golden Glove titles as well as a National GG title before turning pro in August 2009. "He's young, I'm younger; he knows how to fight, I know how to fight. But my time is tomorrow. His run going toward my direction will not be good for him."
Douglin's run hit a bump when he looked past sub-.500 journeyman Doel Carrasquillo in February and got dropped and stopped in the third round. Douglin got a W in his last outing, though, against Phil McCants in July (UD6) and has said that Martinez agreed to this fight because of that blemish on Douglin's résumé. Martinez said this is not so.
The two men knew each other and were friendly during their amateur days, but this isn't a case of two beasties throwing down. You can expect them to trade fiercely, as both men like to come forward and be the aggressor.