LAS VEGAS – Frank Martin is on the biggest stage of his life.

He is almost through a Gervonta “Tank” Davis fight week and on the eve of the fight he has been building toward.

The WBA lightweight title challenger has been fulfilling media obligations, seemingly enjoying the lead-up and putting in the hard yards of satisfying the laborious demands of a bout that will likely sell well anyway.

Martin has also had something to say this week, talking about Davis, his opportunity, their now infamous spar and the fact that he is making a substantial leap in class to take on one of the best fighters in the world. 

And it’s not just that; it’s the occasion that is sometimes daunting and too much to manage. For Martin has never seen anything like this, as part of an event that acts as a magnet for celebrities, athletes, music artists and even soccer players from the English Premier League. 

“I feel like he just got the culture. I feel like he got all the athletes that back him, the hip-hop artists, the rap industry, the boxing world,” Martin said, asked by BoxingScene about Davis’ star power. “I mean, just his persona – also having that push with having Floyd [Mayweather] behind him as well, in the beginning, and stuff like that – all of that played a part, and who he is.”

On Saturday, “The Ghost” will share the stage, determined to not merely be a walk-on part for the sure-to-be elaborate Las Vegas production. 

“It means everything,” Martin said, talking about the chance to change his life in one night. “This is my first fight at the MGM, which is a blessing, and for it be the 100th fight [at the venue] is even doper. And to be against Gervonta Davis, one of the faces of boxing, it don’t get no better than that. So it’s a big blessing.”

Of course, the oddsmakers see it as no blessing for the 18-0 (12 KOs) underdog Martin, a southpaw, like the champion.

But throughout the week, Martin has doubled down on his self-belief. Davis reckoned Martin was shaking at the press conference, implying that he was unnerved by the enormity of the experience. Not so, contended Martin.

“Y’all got to hear me a little bit more today,” he insisted. “There weren’t any mind games. We were just talking.” 

And while there are plenty who acknowledge Martin has not seen anything like Davis, there are others who think Davis has not boxed anyone like Martin – and Frank is one of them.

“I mean, I just feel that he hasn’t fought anybody who can match what he bring, too,” Martin said. “Somebody with power, speed, good instinct. I just don’t feel he’s fought any fighter like that.”

Asked about Davis skipping the Grand Arrivals on Tuesday, Martin said that spoke to the work Davis is putting in, and despite the façade of being playful one moment and talking smack to Martin the next, the Detroit-based challenger feels he has Davis’ full attention.

“I guess he was running. He said the promotion ain’t been good and all that, so he was running, he was getting his roadwork in,” Martin said.

“Man, I feel like this one of those fights, he been working. As y’all know, y’all really ain’t seen him too much. He might tweet a little bit, but as far as doing certain things, he been working his ass off. He been working his ass off because he know deep down inside what type of fighter is in front of him. I don’t care how they cut it, saying I started [boxing] late, any of that. They know what type of fighter I am. They know I’m coming to win, so he know they got a game guy in front of him coming to take everything he worked for. 

“Y’all gotta think, you got a guy, he got out the mud, but he been there. He been there for a while, you know? You got a guy who wants this s*** bad, who had it the hard way all the way leading up, and now he finally got his opportunity, he finally got his moment. I’m gonna come out and shock the f****** world.”

Martin has been resolute and certainly talks a good game, laced with belief and conviction. And there has been plenty of talk. At the press conference on Wednesday, various members of each team caught strays from the opposition.

“We’re fighting, they’ve got their guy, they’re going with him,” Martin said of the generally light-hearted conflict. “I’ve got my team, they’re going with me. That’s how it’s going to be. It’s just two teams going against each other. It is what it is. They say what they’re supposed to say. My team gonna be on my side. That’s how it goes.”

Martin does, however, feel that he might have riled Tank, and that could work in his favor.

“Probably a little bit, but my thing isn’t to talk and get under no one’s skin,” Martin continued. “My thing is, I just want to fight and do what I do. But if I am getting under his skin, it’s just natural. The little s*** that I am saying, it would be something natural.”

And Martin insists that is what he wants, in that he will have the opportunity to catch Davis, who is more concerned with wiping Martin out quickly than fighting with his ring wisdom.

“We’re ready for whatever. I’m saying that if he act up and you f*** around and come out wild like he do with those other guys, he gonna go to sleep,” Martin snapped.

“The whole objective is going out there and winning. If the knockout comes, it comes. I’m not gonna be, ‘I’m just gonna go out there and knock him out.’ I ain’t saying it like that. I’m just saying if he come in and get reckless, he goin’ to sleep.

“I’m not puttin’ pressure on myself when I say the knockout. I’m not sayin’ that I’m gonna knock him out. I’m sayin’ if he come in acting up on some wild s***, he’s going to run into something, acting reckless, tryin’ to be too tough. That’s what I mean by that. I don’t mind going the distance. Boxing. However he come out Saturday night is how the fight gonna go.”

Tactically, it is difficult to envision how the contest will go. Both have spoken about scoring the stoppage, but Martin believes that neither fighter will have had the perfect preparation, owing to the individual styles of the boxers.

“I feel like the fights that I’ve had, I haven’t fought a style like Tank, but the fighters that I’ve fought was just preparation for a fight like this,” he said. “I’ve fought different styles, boxers, punchers. I’ve fought a few different styles, you know, that prepared me for Tank. I’ve had certain sparring partners who can mimic things that he do – not exactly, but maybe some things. But me being ready for this? I’m ready for it. This is what I’ve been training for and I’m ready for anything he’s got.

“I feel like it’s one of those things where we’ve both got two styles. It’s kinda hard to train for, to find guys like us, so as far as preparation, we’ve got similarities of certain guys who can do certain things he can. But for the most part, when we get out there fight night, that’s when everything’s gonna show.”

Davis’ team mocked Martin for being a late starter in the sport, gleefully pointing out that Davis was a world champion by the time Martin turned pro. Martin, in turn, argued that his hard-knocks start has given him the appetite to make the most of what is in front of him.

“Everybody’s path is different. Everybody’s journey, everybody’s path, all of that is different,” he explained. “I got the real deal, got out the mud. I was fighting in armories my first damn 13 fights. Even out of that, the fights that I was fightin’, I was opening up shows. Like when Errol [Spence Jr.] fought Danny Garcia, it was still Covid, so I wasn’t getting’ seen or none of that at the beginning. So everybody got their own little path. My path is different. That’s why this fight is so important for me, going out and winning it, because it’s like everything, all my struggles, all the hard work and sacrifices I make is goin’ to pay off.”

Davis has built a substantial following and has, in his words, become the Face of Boxing. That is open to debate. So is the fact of whether that even matters, but Martin is nonplussed by that and everything that goes with it. His ambitions are more modest.

“I feel like my story, my path, and then also just, like, I feel like I’m genuine,” Martin said. “When people meet me, people get the same me. I’m who I am, you know what I mean? I show love to the people.

“I wanna be like [that] – when people talk boxing, they gotta mention my name. I ain’t too big on the lights and all that, in as far as wanting to be in the spotlight. It comes with it, but that ain’t like, ‘Oh I want that.’ That’s just what comes with it.”

Martin will be hoping that if any lights go out on Saturday that they won’t be his, as he takes to the stage for the biggest fight of his life.

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