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Vanes Martirosyan tops Willie Nelson in two-way Showtime battle

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Vanes Martirosyan didn't have it easy tonight, as he and Willie Nelson both fought hard, with Martirosyan pulling out a well-earned victory.

Amanda Kwok/SHOWTIME

Vanes Martirosyan took a step toward another world title shot tonight with a big win over fellow contender Willie Nelson on Showtime, taking an unanimous decision on scores of 96-94, 97-93, and 97-93, sealing the fight firmly in the final two rounds. BLH had it 96-94 for Martirosyan.

Punch stats were very close, and reflected a good, active, well-matched fight. Nelson landed 80/279 (29%) of his jabs, and 105/329 (32%) of his power punches, for a total of 185/608 (30%) of his punches. Martirosyan landed 36/250 (14%) jabs, but had a great night with power shots, landing 158/375 (42%) for a total of 194/625 (31%).

Martirosyan (35-1-1, 21 KO) got his first shot at a world title last November, losing a split decision to Demetrius Andrade in a fight for the vacant WBO title. With this win, he may have earned his way back to a title shot soon, if not in his next bout.

"We had to (make it a fight). He's a tall guy. It's one thing when you say it, it's another when you get in there and you see a guy in front of you. He was tall, he has long arms," Martirosyan told Steve Farhood of his game plan.

Martirosyan also was asked about his promoter Dan Goossen, the brother of Martirosyan's trainer Joe Goossen, who passed away last week.

"I swear to you, it's been a hard week for us. About round eight, I thought about Dan. This is for Dan. We fought a hard fight. We won, but it's too bad he couldn't be at this fight. I know he was watching me. We love him and we miss him," he said.

For Nelson (23-2-1, 13 KO), it's obviously a setback, but was a strong performance that showcased what he can do with his jab and his length, and also his toughness. Martirosyan appeared to hurt Nelson a few times early in the fight, but Willie never really backed off, and it was a nip-and-tuck fight the whole way. In the end, Martirosyan dug down a little bit more, and he took the fight home. It wasn't that Nelson got worse in the fight, it was just good boxing by Martirosyan.

How did you see this one?