Undefeated lightweight boxing star-on-the-rise Frank “The Ghost” Martin (16-0-0) is one fight away from a title shot. But before the knockout artist can receive his first title shot, he must fight his toughest challenger yet in the popular and also undefeated Cuban boxing star Michel Rivera (24-0-0).
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The two next-up contenders are set to main event the WBA eliminator on Saturday evening in Las Vegas on Showtime Boxing. One must let go of the undefeated title and the opportunity to fight for a title in the 12-round lightweight bout. The fight is Martin’s most important night of his career yet.
Martin spoke with The Source’s Bryson “Boom” Paul last week via Zoom on the importance of this bout. Throughout the conversation, The Ghost shares Errol’s promise to him following his last victory, Rivera’s skill, being the most wanted fighter in the lightweight division, if he is the most dangerous man in the lightweight division, more
Read the full interview below.
[Bryson “Boom” Paul”]: This is a big deal, man. This is a WBA eliminator, man. So after this, it’s the title shot, man. How do you feel?
[Frank Martin]: I feel good. I’m working. I’m ready to go out there and do what I do.
Now, this is also a special moment for you, something that you probably haven’t even thought about. This is your third time fighting in Vegas, and this’ll be your third time fighting an undefeated fighter. So tell me about the experience that you’re going to take into this fight, being that one 0 must go.
Just my grind. My grind, with me having Derrick James behind me, that coaching, that’s definitely going to take me over the top. And then just my natural ability, just my skills. But like you say, somebody 0 got to go, and I feel like it’s one of them things, it’s going to be who want it. When we in there, it’s going to be like, which one of them going to bite down and go get it? I’m known for doing it, so it ain’t nothing. It ain’t going to change.
You are fighting Michel Rivera on December 17th at the Cosmo in Las Vegas. They have him ranked number two and got you ranked at number 10. How do you feel going into this being the favorite, though?
Man, I ain’t really looking at it like that. They can rank it how they want to rank it, but it all depends when we get in there in that ring. So I got to just go in there and just do what I do. I don’t let the rankings or none of that play with my head. I’m going for the number one spot. So I got to go ahead and handle my business.
Now, what a lot of people don’t know is this is a fight that was promised to you by Errol Spence Jr, who’s also helping you promote the fight. Can you add some clarity to that promise? Where does this promise come from? How did they make sure you got this fight that you wanted so bad?
From the jump, he told me he was going to give me big fights, “I’m going to get you the big fights you want,” and everything like that. So this one, it had got mentioned earlier in the year, but there was some stuff going on with me or whatever, so we wasn’t able to make it happen. But it came back around once Chris Colbert didn’t end up taking the fight or whatever, he said he wasn’t ready.
So this came back around. So I’m like, “I’m with it, but what this for? Is it something that we fighting for?” And it was, it’s the title eliminator to get me closer to the WBA belt. So with that, that’s all I needed to hear. I’m like, “Let’s get it.”
Because a lot of people ain’t going to fight me. None of the top guys going to just be like, “All right, yeah, we’re going to fight him.” I’m going to have to work. I got to earn it.
So this one of them things that I’m like, “Yeah, it’s the opportunity, I have to take this to get me in that door with them top dogs or whatever, and get me in that position.” So they can’t say, “What’s his ranking? Where he at?” I’m right there. I’m in the number one spot.
That’s why he was promising me that, basically, he was going to give me the big fights and give me a belt or whatever. So this is the perfect setup. This is the perfect opportunity for me.
Now, this is your third fight this year. How do you like this activity? Do you want to take this into next year, where you fight three times a year?
Right now, I’ll fight more. If I could fight four times, four, three. I would really like to fight four. Give me four quarters. Give me four quarters, and I’m going to rock with it. Three good, but four, if I can get four next year, or three, either/or, cool.
You got a lot of fighters in the lightweight division, a lot of them got their eyes on you, and a lot of them have big fights that also involve you in the future. But when other enthusiasts that do these interviews ask you about future fights, ask you about this person, that person, does it ever bother you that they don’t sit here and focus on the fight at hand? Obviously, you are not overlooking anybody. You sitting here like, “Rivera is the one in front of me right now, and then we’ll deal with the rest later.” But do you ever get annoyed or frustrated with people asking you questions as far as future fights or future fighters?
Sometimes. Sometimes, because a lot of times people jump ahead of what’s in front of them. I try to be in that moment. I try to focus on what’s right there right now. Because a lot of those fights they talking about might not even happen. Sometimes it’s a waste of energy to even talk about it. I feel like I’m going to respect my opponent that I got right now, and handle my business with him. And then I would prefer, I like to talk more about other fights when I don’t got no fight booked up, something like that. But talking about another fighter, I would prefer to just stick on my man.
Rivera, is he your biggest challenge so far?
Yeah. I would say fighting style, and record wise and all of that, yeah, I’d say that he’s the more skilled fighter. He is similar to the last dude I just fought, I feel like. Might be just a little slicker, but I feel like he similar to the last guy I fought.
Speaking on Jackson, and your last fight, you obviously won, TKO in the 10. But I want to ask you, looking back at the tape, what were some things that you noticed about yourself that you worked on this camp?
Man, there was a lot. I can’t tell you what I’m working on now, you’re going to have to see that. That fight, I didn’t really have a lot of time to prepare for. I probably found out 10 days before the fight. Energy low, so really the game plan, we worked certain things, but some of the stuff wasn’t sticking with me. Energy low, can’t really register everything.
So that fight, I feel like it was a lot of mistakes that I made in that fight. And also, I felt like it was an off night for me, just within. Just my body, there was some stuff that wasn’t working for me that night or whatever. My timing, I was just off a tad bit.
But I figured it out. Derrick gave me good instructions in the corner or whatever, to get me in that zone that I needed to get in. But I had to figure it out, and find it, that fight. But there was some things that I didn’t lock down on, some shots I got hit with that I wasn’t supposed to get hit with. I was real stationary that fight.
Just really trying to get what I got, get that knockout, but I wasn’t doing it. I wasn’t doing it the smooth way. I made it harder than what it had to be.
Obviously, this is a bigger fight, so everything is amped up, and everything’s a little bit different as far as training. Going into training camp now, how has training been for you this time around?
Yeah, it been good, man. My sparring partners, I got a lot of good sparring partners for this camp. Real good sparring partners. I’ve got a nutritionist. Added on extreme conditioning. EJ been real hands-on with me, just as far as we’ve been locked in together, running, working out, everything. We just been locked all the way in. I done added quite a few things different in this camp.
Now your promoter, how has your relationship with Errol Spence grown in and out of the ring?
Oh, it’s good. Me and EJ’s relationship always been good. With this camp, with this fight, he been making sure I’m good with everything. If it’s anything that I need, or anything that could help me, he asking me, like, “Tell me what you need, whatever.” He just making sure I’m all the way mentally where I need to be, physically. Whatever I need, he making sure I’m getting that, so I can be all the way prepared for the fight. He been tapped in with me.
You are going to be a top dog one day yourself. Like you said, EJ has taken care of you, made sure you got everything you need. In the future, when you on top, are you going to be also reaching back to a fighter like yourself? What is something that you’ve learned from EJ that you plan to take on into the future when you reach back for other fighters?
Man, a lot. It’s like little stuff. Some people take things differently though. Some people may be like, little things help him out the most, like if it is a conversation, if it’s showing somebody a move, if it’s whatever. Just how he is with, not even just me, it’s fighters who ask him stuff.
We just went to a fight over the weekend, and it’s a lot of fighters who admire him. So just how he cool, he real social with his fans, and then with other fighters. Not too many fighters, but if it’s a fighter he rock with, you know he going to support him. He going to support him.
So just that right there, just being real supportive of the up-and-coming fighters that I like, that I rock with. Just being supportive of them, and giving them the motivation, if it’s words … Just certain things go a long way.
You have all the abilities and attributes to become one of the greatest lightweights of all time. But I want to ask you, in your opinion, who are your top five lightweights of all time?
I switched it up a lot. I switch mines up a lot. I like Roberto Duran. I pick up a little bit from everybody though, so it’s something from everybody.
Roberto Duran. Pernell Whitaker. Meldrick Taylor. I like Meldrick Taylor. Floyd. Who else? Let me rock out with my four. Let me rock out with my four.
You said this time you got a nutritionist and whatnot. I want to ask you, what have you learned about your eating habit with this nutritionist?
For the most part, I be on point when it come to eating good and everything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to eat when … I like seafood a lot. But I don’t just be eating and get out of shape, and just be, “Oh, I got to …” I’m always in shape.
But, with this nutritionist, it’s just everything that I’m eating, I ain’t really gaining too much weight. I’m having energy, I’m eating all the right stuff that I’m supposed to eat, everything balanced. He know exactly like, “All right, I’m going to cut the carbs off this week, and I’m going to take up the protein.” He knowing what to do. I don’t know how to do that on my own.
I normally cook on my own, but he making it easy. Making sure, in the morning, breakfast made as soon as I get up. Lunch, when I get out the gym, done. Dinner, same thing, when I get back, everything done. So I’m eating, and I can do what I got to do.
In training camp right now, but you still have your downtime, so I want to know, what are you doing to stay relaxed in the downtime? Are you watching anything? Reading anything? Meditations? What are you doing in the downtime?
I was doing yoga. I’ve been doing hot yoga. I be doing that cryo. I be doing that cryotherapy, the compressions, and all of that stuff. I got this book I’ve been reading, it’s called … You going to know what it is. What’s the name of the book? The Way of the Superior Man. I’ve been tapped into that book or whatever. I got to tap back in, I ain’t read it in about two weeks though, so I’m going to get back into it. That keep me my mental on point.
This is The Source. Of course, we have to talk about the music. Who are you listening to in the gym, training?
I’ll be listening to that new Lil Baby. That new Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch. Got some NBA. I got some NBA in there, for sure. We be having a little bit of everything going in the gym.
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In the gym, it’s not always serious. Boxers often crack jokes on each other a lot in training. Now honestly, who brings the heat?
EJ got the heat. Errol got the heat. Errol got the heat. He got the heat, for sure. He don’t get on me. We be on Reece, we be on Maurice’s head.
Rivera is arguably the toughest you will face yet, but definitely not the toughest opponent that you will face in your career, I’m sure. One 0 must go. Are you worried at all about losing your 0, whether it’s now or in the future?
Nah. Nah, I’m not. I don’t want to lose it, so I’m working, I’m working, working, working. Doing everything I got to do so I can keep it. I’m into, whatever going to get me to where I got to get to. So I ain’t like, “Man, this is a tough fight. I don’t want to lose.” No. I’m fitting to challenge myself. I’m going to do everything I got to do to get this W, but for the most part I’m fitting to challenge myself and go get it. So winning is the only thing right now in my mind.
How does it feel with Showtime Boxing and Premier Boxing Champions getting behind you as a promising main event headliner?
Man, it’s dope. It’s dope. All the hard work is right here now. It’s up to me to go out here and do what I’m supposed to do to keep it going. All the hard days, all of that, is right here, so I just have to go out here and do what I do to keep this momentum going.
You have to set the record straight. Is Frank Martin, the ghost himself, the most dangerous man in the lightweight division?
Watch Martin vs. Rivera at 9PM ET/6PM PT on Saturday, December 17, on Showtime