Vanes "Nightmare" Martirosyan hasn't been in the ring since early June, but nonetheless, the undefeated light middleweight has taken quite a beating over the past week.
Rather than physical, the abuse heaped on Glendale's most famous fighter in the wake of turning down a proposed Nov. 5 fight in Cancun, Mexico against Alfredo Angulo late last week has been verbal, dished out over the web by sources as varied as Golden Boy Promotions brass, fight fans on Internet message boards and even Angulo himself.
"[Martirosyan] turned it down. He's off the card," Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez told boxingscene.com. of the fight, which was announced Sept. 7 and nixed days later by Martirosyan's camp. "It's a fight the [World Boxing Council] ordered. The money was right. We offered him a good amount of money. We offered him neutral officials, everything. It was going to be in Cancun, HBO was going to televise, but he doesn't want to fight."
Martirosyan, the Top-Rank Promotions-backed No. 1 contender for the WBC light middleweight title held by Saul Alvarez, recently cleared the air about whether he's really ducking Angulo, who is promoted by Golden Boy, and just why he didn't view the fight's stipulations in the same glowing terms as Gomez.
"I would love to fight Angulo. I've been wanting that fight for a long time," said Martirosyan (30-0, 19 knockouts). "It's just that the WBC is being really funny about things."
A large part of the rationale behind Martirosyan's unwillingness to fight Angulo (20-1, 17 KOs) Nov. 5 stems from his position that he has already earned a title shot in the 154-pound division.
Martirosyan was a top contender for the WBC belt back in March when Alvarez instead fought and beat welterweight Matthew Hatton for the vacant title. Martirosyan then defeated Saul Roman for the vacant WBC Silver light middleweight title formerly held by Alvarez in what was billed as a semi-final title eliminator on June 4. The Angulo fight was being negotiated as another hurdle for Martirosyan to clear to reach Alvarez, also a Golden Boy client, who would have been mandated to face the winner.
"Everybody will say their side of the story and it's easy to talk," Martirosyan's uncle and manager Serge Martirosyan said. "But when it comes to reality, Vanes was supposed to fight for the WBC title about a year ago.
"[Alvarez] is what we were waiting for and after that, Angulo came into the picture. Golden Boy did a very good job of protecting their champion, knowing that he is going to get beat by Vanes."
"I call Angulo Saul Alvarez' bodyguard," Vanes Martirosyan said. "They're just protecting [Alvarez]."
Martirosyan's camp maintains they would have considered the fight anyway, if not for concerns about Angulo's visa problems, which would mandate the fight being in Angulo's homeland of Mexico, as well as the issue of compensation, although the terms were never publicly released and accounts differ wildly on just how much was offered.
Still, as recently as Friday, in the wake of the criticism, Martirosyan's manager said his client was asking him to reopen negotiations on the Nov. 5 fight with Angulo with money now being the only sticking point, although Serge Martirosyan acknowledged the window on the fight has likely closed, as Golden Boy and Top Rank are reportedly now ironing out the final details for Angulo to fight James Kirkland on the same card.
Instead, Martirosyan is eyeing an Oct. 29 return to the ring in Oklahoma against an opponent yet to be named.
"I don't know what's going on, I'm just doing my part and Serge will do the rest," Martirosyan said of his next matchup. "I trust him and we'll just see what happens."
Angulo also didn't miss his chance to verbally skewer Vanes Martirosyan, who hasn't been shy about publicly calling out prominent fighters in the division, including Angulo.
"On one hand I'm shocked, but on the other, this doesn't really surprise me," Angulo told boxingnews24.com. "Vanes Martirosyan is a tough guy, but only on the Internet. He calls everybody out, says he's not getting big fights, but then when he gets offered the opportunity of a lifetime, he turns it down. He needs to get out from behind his computer where he likes to talk about me and get into the ring where he can fight me.
"We offered him everything in this fight, the winner would fight in a WBC world title fight, neutral officials so he wouldn't feel uncomfortable about fighting in Mexico and he would have made three times more for this fight than he's ever made before. I guess he loves that 30-0 record more than actually fighting real fights against real fighters."
Not so fast, says Vanes Martirosyan, who claims some reports greatly exaggerated the size of the purse offered and that he only would have made $150,000 from the fight, or $50,000 more than he was paid for defeating Joe Greene at Yankee Stadium on June 5, 2010.
"What Golden Boy offered me is not what they said," Vanes Martirosyan said. "They say that they offered me a big amount, they didn't. They offered me five times less than what they offered Angulo in his last fight. [It was] peanuts.
"I got 100,000 for fighting Joe Greene. I'm going to get $150,000 for fighting Angulo in Mexico with his judges and his hometown?"
Serge Martirosyan said Vanes would have accepted the location and purse stipulated for the Angulo fight had it been for a title fight with Alvarez, but likewise said he couldn't rationalize going to a hostile environment and accepting what he viewed as a low-ball offer for a non-title fight with Angulo.
"The only reason we could go and fight over there was money because there is nothing else in it and the money is not even right," Serge Martirosyan said. "When Angulo has a belt, when Vanes has a belt, unifying those belts, fighting each other with big money involved — let's do it.
"Or with either one of them having a belt, let's fight each other, let's do it. But right now, to fight an eliminator to fight [Alvarez], it's not fair. Vanes and Angulo should be fighting for millions of dollars, not pocket change."
In a further twist, Vanes Martirosyan's former manager Steve Feder claimed in an interview with boxingscene.com the day after their split that the talks for a Martirosyan-Angulo fight broke down before money even entered the dialogue.
Feder and Vanes Martirosyan's business arrangement was severed on Sept. 9, the same day Serge Martirosyan took over his managerial duties. While Martirosyan's camp declined to specify what led to the change, Feder indicated to boxingscene.com that the rift was based primarily on disagreement over the Angulo fight.
"[Vanes Martirosyan] called out of a lot of people," Feder told boxingscene.com. "I didn't agree with that, especially when he's got a great promotional team in Top Rank behind him to do their job. Look, the Angulo fight wasn't easy, but he's in a position where you have to keep building. At 30-0, you got to take a step up at a certain point. Champions are made by risk.
"If he worked hard in the gym, he could've won. Were they the best conditions, as far as going to Mexico? No. He wanted it in the U.S. but we had agreed to U.S. judges, and we hadn't even started negotiations for money. I felt like we'd get a fair deal from Top Rank in terms of money. He just didn't want the fight. There's nothing I could've done about that. You have to fight the guys that the people want to see you fight."