Christy Martin: Fighters Fight

29.05.07 - By Bernie McCoy: Singers sing, actors act, writers write and fighters fight. That's only one of the reasons Christy Martin is stepping into the ring on June 2 in Lake Charles, LA for a six round bout with an undefeated Hammond, IN boxer, Amy Yuratovac. Christy Martin is a fighter. Another reason is, as Martin told me on the telephone last week from her training base in Florida, "I love it, I'd like to get to fifty (wins, she currently has 46), but the main reason is, I love it."

Amy Yuratovac has had five fights, all wins, none of which have gone beyond three rounds and Yuratovac will bring the reputation of a tough fighter, in the long storied Chicago/Gary, IN tradition, to northwest Louisiana on June 2. A closer look at Yuratovac's record yields the fact that none of her five opponents has had a win on their record, while, on the other hand, Christy Martin has had 53 bouts, over a span of 17 years. Also, as "back story," it's probably worth noting that when Martin had her first professional bout (September 9, 1989, a five round draw against Angela Buchanan in Bristol, TN), Amy Yuratovac was six years old.

Christy Martin is a fighter, that's certainly one of the reasons she still puts herself through the daily rigors of roadwork, sparring and heavy bags but she also does it because of the realization that all that work leads to one more trip into the ring and that's what fighters like Christy Martin long for, the sound of the opening bell. Fifty-three times and counting up the ring steps and, when it's done one thing is irrefutable: the discussion of the history of Women's boxing, by necessity, will start with Christy Martin.

Seventeen years and fifty-three fights have also made Martin well aware that once the bell rings in Lake Charles on June 2, comparative records and number of years in the sport are little more than numbers on a stat sheet. Likewise, five fights against opponents with no wins and fifty-three bouts against the best fighters in the sport, are little help when it comes to throwing a jab or slipping a big right hand. "I don't know a lot about her (Yuratovac)," Christy replies in answer to a question, "I know she's right handed and she's ranked tenth by the WBC. But, I've always had respect for every fighter I ever fought and I do know that she'll come into the ring well prepared because her trainer, Dennis Hardesty, is one of the best in the business. Dennis and Jim (Martin, Christy's husband and manager) go back more than a few years from up in Indiana and I know any fighter Hardesty puts into the ring will be well prepared and ready to go. I did talk to one of the local Indiana newspapers a couple of days ago and the reporter sounded like he was ready to begin shoveling dirt on me. That's OK, a lot of people have thought that I was gone and buried before this and I'm still around and, believe me, I'll be ready to come out of the corner on June 2. I've been around long enough to know there are no sure things in the boxing ring, anything can happen, but I'm certainly not going to Lake Charles to lose.

Asked about her training, Martin says that the familiar routine (seventeen years can make almost anything seem familiar) is going well, "I've got Valerie Mahfood down here and if you know anything about Valerie, it's that she's always in shape and she's a great sparring partner, always coming forward, always right on top of you. So, yeah, training is going great." Martin says she plans to come to the Lake Charles bout at around 147 pounds (the contract weight is 151).

And after June 2? Martin says she wants to take another fight in July and then in September there are plans for a ten round bout for the WBC Superlightweight title in Monte Carlo, against Jane Couch. "Jane and I have been circling each other for a long time, talking back and forth and it's probably time we finally got together in the ring." The fight will be promoted by Starbox, a Canadian promotion company in Montreal. Martin and Couch, two of the female athletes who have laid the foundation for the present day era of Women's boxing, one fighter in the United Kingdom, the other in this country, have combined careers spanning over three decades and ninety bouts.

It's practically inevitable that some skeptics will question the Martin/Couch bout, at this point in time, when both fighters are, admittedly, winding down their careers. In point of fact, Couch and Martin are both 38 years of age, well short of "senior tour" status and, more importantly, both fighters remain fully capable of putting on a display of the type of boxing skill that, unfortunately, often is missing from too many of today's female bouts. That reason alone, the opportunity to get two skilled professional female boxers in the ring together is as good a reason, as any, for ten rounds of Christy Martin and Jane Couch. Add the fact that both these fighters have, over their careers, shown that, in the ring, each has only one gear, straight ahead, throwing big punches with bad intentions and Martin/Couch starts to sound good even to the most cynical of critics.

Christy Martin knows, however, that first up is Amy Yuratovac in Lake Charles, LA on June 2 and she's not looking beyond that date and that Hammond, IN fighter with five KOs on her record. And to those who persist in questioning why, why Christy Martin continues to seek out fights after seventeen years, the answer is that fighters fight and Christy Martin deserves the label, "fighter," as few in the sport ever have.

Sinatra didn't stop singing when he was at that stage of his career where he was "talking" songs because once he got to the first notes of "My Way," everyone stopped and listened. Brando didn't stop acting even when he, literally, outgrew the screen because he could still reach back and give moviegoers a few minutes like that Kurtz soliloquy in "Apocalypse Now" and no one could take their eyes off the screen. Hemingway didn't stop writing until the day he picked up that shotgun because, right to the end, he could still sit down at the typewriter and punch up 800 words and every one of those words read perfect. Sinatra, Brando, Hemingway could still "bring it" right into their own final rounds. And so can Christy Martin, maybe not like she could when she was fighting underneath Mike Tyson main events (and often stealing the show), when she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But Christy Martin can still reach back and give boxing fans enough boxing skill to make them think "she still knows what boxing is all about" and today, in this sport, that not only makes Christy Martin a fighter, it makes her well worth watching.

Article posted on 29.05.2007

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