MASHANTUCKET – New Britain native Nathan Martinez battled through the first six-round bout of his professional boxing career on Saturday afternoon at Foxwoods, and it took all six to decide the outcome.
After the unofficial scores had the match at an even draw through four rounds, Martinez traded blows with Yeuri Andujar through the sixth round and lasted through the final bell, but when the decision was announced, Andujar was the unanimous winner, handing Martinez (6-1) the first loss of his young pro career.
“I knew I had to close out strong to finish the fight, and I did my best,” Martinez said of the flurry of punches the two threw at each other in the middle of the ring right at the start of the final round. “It just ended up in a loss, and I’ll take it as a loss.”
The judges scores were all close, with two scoring 58-56 and another 59-55, all in favor of Andujar, but the battle was close from beginning to end.
“I thought my son won three rounds,” Martinez’s father and trainer Jose Martinez said. “It could have been a draw, but they gave it to Yeuri.”
Nathan appeared to get out to a strong start towards keeping his perfect record intact, nailing Andujar with a left hook to the chin in the opening minute of the first round, then landing a combination of body punches, highlighted by a strong right hook, in the final minute of the round as Nathan looked like the stronger fighter to start.
Then Andujar went to work.
The Dominican Republic native landed a pair of uppercuts to Nathan’s chin to begin round two, then controlled round three to take both rounds, per the unofficial judges scores. After a timid opening round, Andujar came out with the aggression that both Nathan and Jose were expecting from an opponent that already had three career knockouts to his credit.
“Nathan got involved in Yeuri’s fight,” Jose said. “He started brawling. That guy likes to brawl. Nate can box and brawl, but [Yeuri] came out victorious. It was a good fight.”
Nathan showed his own strength in round four, landing a right to Andujar’s chin to begin the round before landing two of his best punches of the fight in the form of consecutive hooks the head of Andujar while he had Andujar backed in the corner.
After a seemingly even fifth, the two fighters came out and immediately emptied the tank at the center of the ring. Nathan landed a left jab to the face of Andujar after a landing a pair of hooks, but Andujar countered with a pair of jabs to knock Nathan back. The brawl continued until the bell sounded, with the outcome of the fight still in doubt until the judge’s scores were announced.
“It had to be like that,” Jose said of the eventful sixth round. “Nathan had to come and try to take him out and knock him down. The fight was close, so they both came out and started throwing bombs.”
The outcome may have been a surprise to Jose, but Nathan reacted to his first-ever defeat with the acknowledgement that he could have done more himself to make things harder on the judges.
“I don’t have an excuse,” Nathan said. “It’s just a loss.”
Despite the loss, Nathan looked strong through his final two rounds in what was the longest fight of his career so far. Having won all six of his four-round bouts heading into Saturday, Nathan didn’t see the extra time as factor in his loss. He just felt he could have shown a little more.
“I felt good,” Nathan said. “I wasn’t tired, but I let him look busier. It was good competition. I didn’t really have a reaction (to the judges’ scores). I just have to take it as it is.”