NEW BRITAIN - Nathan Martinezâ€™s first professional six-round fight is going to have to wait.
The New Britain nativeâ€™s upcoming boxing bout, which will take place Friday night in Hartford against Steve Garagarza, is back down to four rounds after originally being scheduled for six. A loaded fight card packed with fellow Connecticut residents caused his bout to be bumped back down, where Martinez has been for his first five pro fights, which have all resulted in wins.
â€śThey have about nine fights scheduled, so they didnâ€™t want to do it,â€ť Martinezâ€™s father and trainer Jose Martinez said. â€śI asked them a few times, but they wouldnâ€™t do it. I have to keep [Nathan] active, so I had to take what they give me.â€ť
Nathan, always focused on nothing but the opponent standing between him and his perfect pro record, reacted to the news as if it wasnâ€™t news at all.
â€śI thought all along it was four rounds,â€ť Nathan said just days before the fight. â€ś[Jose] deals with all that stuff. I just get ready to fight.â€ť
Nathan usually remains so keen on his own craft he doesnâ€™t watch film of his next opponent, often times not learning of his counterpart until weeks before the match. This time, Jose gave his son a peek at Garagarza, a 19-year-old from Houston, Texas, who is coming off a split decision and currently holds a 1-1-1 pro record.
â€śHe comes forward and throws a lot of punches, but he stays open,â€ť Nathan said of Garagarza. â€śHe leaves his body open a lot, so Iâ€™m going to try and attack the body early and see if I can get a stoppage.â€ť
Nathan has earned a stoppage in two of his last three fights, picking up a first-round knockout of Chante Bowens back in April and a first-round TKO of Thomas Kenney in his last fight back on July 20. The 20-year-old has shown a strong sense of aggression in the ring since turning pro 20 months ago, but is preparing to face an opponent who shares the same aggression for the first time.
â€śThis is a different style than what Nathan has faced before, so it should be a great fight,â€ť Jose said. â€śNathan likes to go toe-to-toe too.â€ť
In preparation for what could be Nathanâ€™s most physical fight so far, he has upheld a strict training schedule that includes five miles of running, intense workouts with his strength and conditioning coach and afternoon sessions in the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays and Thursdays are saved for sparring sessions and even more cardio work.
Nathanâ€™s sparring sessions last as long as eight to 10 rounds, and is still primarily working with Katie Taylor, who this year became the top-ranked pound-for-pound female boxer in the world, per BoxRec. He has also worked in the ring with Bridgeportâ€™s Oscar Bonilla, a 30-year-old who boasts a 6-3-2 pro record and has won his last three fights. The two Connecticut residents serve as a fitting precursor for Fridayâ€™s event at the Connecticut Convention Center, which includes residents of New Haven, New London and Hartford on the fight card, including New Haven resident Chad Dawson, who is fighting in the main event for the vacant WBC USNBC Light Heavyweight title.
Surrounded by local talent, Nathan will also be fighting in the state capital for the first time since his first-ever pro fight at the Xfinity Theatre back in June of 2018, offering him and Jose an opportunity to return to where their journey began.
â€śItâ€™s beautiful,â€ť Jose said. â€śItâ€™s like home. Itâ€™s going to be really exciting to be back.â€ť
As a part of Friday nightâ€™s crowded fight card, Nathan hopes to continue to make his way up closer to the main event with each passing fight. A six-round bout will have to wait for another day, which is fine with him. Both he and his opponent plan on making it a much shorter fight anyway, and if that is indeed Garagarzaâ€™s game plan, Nathan is ready to welcome that challenge and potentially grab another early knockout.
â€śIf that what he wants to do, he better be careful or he might go down himself,â€ť Nathan said. â€śIâ€™m ready for whatever he brings and Iâ€™m ready to put on a show.â€ť
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org