If competition makes a fighter better, Stan "The Man" Martyniouk (12-1, 2 KOs) should shine on July 20 when he returns to action after a nine-month layoff to face veteran David Rodela (16-8, 7 KOs) at the Red Lion Hotel in Sacramento, California.
Recently, Martyniouk worked closely with a former world champion who's also been out of the ring for a while.
"I had the opportunity to be Amir Khan’s main sparring partner and got to travel to England this year," Martyniouk told this writer during a recent telephone interview.
"I've been improving in the gym, staying sharp, and working on becoming a better fighter."
Martyniouk also sparred with junior welterweights Karim Mayfield (ranked number two by the WBO), Mike Dallas and former welterweight titleholder Andre Berto.
"It (sparring) has gotten me a lot better and given me a lot of confidence,” Martyniouk said.
"With those guys, we don't have sparring sessions in the gym, we have fights," he added,chuckling.
Martyniouk began his amateur boxing career at fourteen. He engaged in 85 fights during his eight-year journey, eventually winning a bronze medal at the 2007 National Golden Glove Championships.
By the end of the year he was rated number two in the national rankings. His forte was foot and hand speed.
Martyniouk decided to turn professional in 2008. He reeled off ten consecutive victories, before being upset by Khadaphi Proctor. The loss was devastating for the 25-year-old.
After a number of starts and stops in his career, including parting ways with trainer Joe Goossen, Martyniouk startedworking with former trainer of the year Virgil Hunter.
The cerebral Hunter has helped Martyniouk gain a different perspective on the manly art of pugilism.
"The most important aspect that Virgil Hunter has taught me and is teaching me is how to think in the ring and be creative," Martyniouk said. “I'm learning how to adapt in the ring and take away my opponents strengths.
"It's amazing how using your brain in the ring can make your fight so much easier," he added.
Martyniouk, 28, will have an opportunity to show he's "The Man" on July 20. His opponent, Rodela, has faced the likes of hot prospect Terrance Crawford and former two-time belt holder Jorge Linares.
Hunter feels Martyniouk is ready.
"Stan has looked real sharp in camp," said Hunter. "This is a crossroads fight."
Martyniouk concurs, "Rodela has a lot of experience and has been in there with some real good fighters. He's fought the top fighters.
"I'm training hard so I can show everyone I'm a champion in the making," said Martyniouk.
Martyniouk feels an impressive victory over Rodela could be a springboard to bigger and better things.
"I want to look good beating whoever they put in front of me," Martyniouk said.
"I want to show everyone who I am."
On July 20, he'll get his chance.
John J. Raspanti responds to all his emails. Please send all questions and comments to John at: firstname.lastname@example.org