It will take some effort for Josh Taylor to wipe the smile off the face of Ryan Martin this weekend – even if the American is to be dealt the first defeat of his career.
The happy-go-lucky Tennessee-native (22-0) is ready to rock the boat tomorrow night when he goes glove to glove with Prestonpans puncher Taylor, also undefeated (13-0), in their super lightweight quarter-final World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) duel at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro.
Seeded eighth in the second season of the competition, Martin is an unknown quantity on these shores given this will be the first time he has fought outwith the US.
However, some observers from his homeland have suggested the 25-year-old lacks the mean streak needed to make it to the very top of the sport.
Martin, though, insists that despite a challenging up bringing in Chattanooga, he is simply content with the way in which is life has panned out - both in and out of the ring.
“It was tough as a kid but I handled it very well,” Martin explained without going into any great detail. “I look back at certain situations that happened and laugh at it all. It was tough at times but that’s all in the past now and I’m grateful for what I’ve got. Life has never been easy. That’s just the way I grew up. I work hard for everything I have.
“My background in Tennessee is that my older brother got me into boxing when I was eight years old and I fell in love with the sport straight away. I lived everywhere and grew up in various houses in Chattanooga. That’s what made me what I am today. I take the view just to enjoy life because this isn’t forever.
“I’m an enjoyable person and I enjoy life. I’m always happy and won’t let anyone take that away from me. I’ve always been a smiley person. I don’t wish I had a meaner streak. It comes out in the ring.”
While complimenting WBC silver champion Taylor for his meteoric rise since teaming up with Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions in summer 2015, Martin - who signed his first professional deal with famous rapper 50 Cent in 2013 - believes his military-style training at Abel Sanchez’s high altitude residential camp in Big Bear, California, has prepared him to cope with the explosive Scot.
“It’s really hard work up there. It’s like military-style training and one of the things I love is working my ass off,” Martin said. I have friends who went in different directions but I chose to stay on the path I’m on now and this is what I wanted.
“Sometimes my opponents underestimate me because of the way I am. But fool them. They see me smiling and being a nice guy but I’m in the sport for a reason and I’m 22-0 for a reason.
“When I hit the venue a switch is turned on then when I get into the ring another switch turns. I hear ding-ding and it’s no more Mr Nice Guy.
“When I started as a pro I signed with 50 cent and everything’s gone good so far. That was my first pro contract. It was exciting and I’ve had some good times and he has taught me a lot of things.
“But God is also good to me and that’s why I smile. Being in is presence makes me smile. I have a strong faith in God. There’s a book of bible verses I read every morning and the scriptures tell me what the day is going to bring. That’s how I grew up.”
Martin’s trainer Sanchez, who has Tyson Fury staying at his secluded premises in preparation for next month’s WBC world heavyweight contest with Deontay Wilder, believes his man has what it takes to progress to the semi-finals against Ivan Baranchyk of Belarus.
“We have a lot of great fighters in our gym and we push them to the limit,” he said. “That’s when they find out about themselves. Ryan has a lot of talent and when he puts it all together Josh won’t be able to handle him.”