Kareem Martin kept the good fortunes going for head trainer Calvin Ford, though fending off a late run by Petros Ananyan to score a majority decision.
Scores were 76-76 even and 78-74 twice in favor of Martin in their eight-round junior welterweight biut Saturday evening at State Farm Arena.
The early action saw Martin work his jab over the top of Ananyan’s low defensive guard. The Washington D.C. product consistently beat Ananyan to the punch, mixing in occasional right hands which didn’t have quite as much impact as the accompanying grunt he offered with every thrown punch.
Ananyan enjoyed his best sequence of the fight early in round three, connecting with a right hand to Martin’s exposed midsection. The Brooklyn-based Russian export mixed in a looping left hook from long range, though only enjoying marginal success.
Martin resumed control in round four, beating Ananyan to the punch while putting in quality body work. Ananyan created space between the two in round five, but unable to capitalize on his height and reach advantage as Martin’s quicker hands continued to provide fits.
The majority of action in the final three rounds were spent at close quarters, working to Martin’s advantage as he scored with left hooks and right hands ownstairs. Ananyan did his best to initiate exchanges and force a dog fight, but was frequently countered and often leading him to clinch.
Ananyan picked up the pace in the eighth and final round, landing a right hand which briefly forced Martin’s knees to buckle and caused him to hold. The late surge wasn’t enough to erase the early deficit on two of three scorecards in suffering a second loss in his past three starts in falling to 14-2-2 (7KOs).
Martin advances to 14-2-1 (4KOs), having now won five straight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox