UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Ryan Martin let his hands go Saturday night much more than he did during his technical-knockout defeat to Josh Taylor.
It still wasn’t nearly enough to beat Robert Easter Jr.
The former IBF lightweight champion landed the harder punches with more regularity, worked well off his jab, effectively went after Martin’s body and won their 12-round junior welterweight fight by unanimous decision on the Adrien Broner-Jovanie Santiago undercard at Mohegan Sun Arena. Judges Tom Carusone (118-110), Frank Lombardi (117-111) and John McKaie (118-110) all scored Easter a wide winner in the opener of Showtime’s tripleheader.
Easter won 10 rounds apiece according to Carusone and McKaie. Lombardi scored nine rounds for Easter.
“I just was comfortable,” Easter said during a post-fight press conference. “Once I stay boxing, I get comfortable. I get a little bored, but everybody says when I box, and I use my jab, and I keep my distance, I make the fight that much easier. So, that’s what I was working on. That’s what I worked on the whole camp.
“Me and my dad have been stressing on use the jab, use the jab, keep your distance, and that’s what we did. I did get bored and I wanted to fight. But as you see, when I wanted to fight, look what happened – I got head-butted. So, it was best that we keep our distance and keep boxing.”
Easter suffered the first cut of his career in the eighth round from that aforementioned accidental clash of heads.
The 30-year-old Easter (23-1-1, 14 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, fought for the first time since he won a 10-round unanimous decision against Adrian Granados in October 2019 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Martin (24-2, 14 KOs) had won two tune-up bouts by knockout since June 27 before facing Easter, who beat Martin in an amateur fight nearly 10 years ago.
The 27-year-old Martin, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, suffered his first defeat since Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) stopped him in the seventh round of their November 2018 bout at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow. The Scottish southpaw went on to win the IBF and WBA 140-pound championships and established himself as perhaps the class of their division.
Martin had hoped an upset of Easter would’ve moved him back into position to pursue a title shot. It was Easter, however, who strengthened his case to secure a championship chance later this year.
The 12th round was more of the same – Easter effectively boxing off his back foot, peppering Martin with his jab and avoiding most of Martin’s power shots. Clearly comfortable and ahead on the scorecards, Easter pot-shotted Martin throughout the 11th round and padded his lead.
Easter’s hard jab penetrated Martin’s guard several times during the 10th round. Martin made Easter fight going backward for much of the 10th round, but he didn’t land many flush punches on Easter.
Martin went after Easter at the start of the ninth round and made Easter retreat. Easter slipped many of Martin’s punches, but he didn’t throw as many punches in the ninth round as he did during previous rounds.
Martin was aggressive in the eighth round, but Easter fended him off on the inside and tied him up when necessary. Easter landed hard lefts and rights to Martin’s body in the eighth round, but an accidental clash of heads caused a cut over Easter’s left eye in that round as well.
Easter’s jab was sharp during the seventh round. He also knocked Martin off balance with a left hook toward the end of that seventh round.
Easter was the busier, more active fighter again in the sixth round and continued to build on his lead.
Martin traded with Easter for much of the fifth round and backed him up at times. Easter drilled Martin with an overhand right toward the end of the fifth round, but Martin didn’t appear hurt by that shot.
Easter pressed the action again in the fourth round. Martin let his hands go more in that round than in the previous round, but Easter was the more effective fighter on the inside, both to the head and body.
Easter attacked Martin’s body with his left hook throughout the third round and continued to work well off his jab.
Easter landed a jab and followed it up with a straight right hand late in the second round. Martin pressed the action in a largely uneventful opening round and made Easter tie him up toward the end of it.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.