Doug Fischer

10: Mexico’s best bantamweight titleholders ever

NO. 8 RODOLFO MARTINEZ

Record: 44-7-1 (35 KOs)

Active: 1965-79

Background: The Mexico City-born boxer-puncher was unbeaten in his first 29 pro bouts (28-0-1, with 25 KOs), an impressive streak that included victories over top-10 contenders Kazuyoshi Kanazawa (TKO 4) and Shintaro Uchiyama (SD 10), who he fought in Southern California.

Martinez’s first loss was a hotly contested 12-round majority decision to future titleholder Rafael Herrera at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., in 1971. He rebounded with seven consecutive victories but he was stopped in the 12th round of his rematch with Herrera in a failed bid for the vacant WBC title in Monterrey, Mexico, in ‘73. However, Martinez won his third meeting with Herrera with fourth-round TKO in Merida, Mexico, in ‘74.

The Herrera victory gave Martinez the WBC belt, which he defended five times, including a split decision over former flyweight titleholder Venice Borkhorsor, before he was dethroned by Carlos Zarate, who knocked him out in nine rounds at the Forum in ‘76. No shame in losing to Zarate, a future hall of famer who was 39-0 with 38 KOs at the time Martinez fought him.

“Martinez wasn’t as popular as other Mexican bantamweight champs,” said veteran cutman Tony Rivera, who worked Martinez’s corner for the Zarate fight. “He was very quiet guy. He didn’t have the personality of some of the other champs, so he gets overlooked, but he was a very, very good all-around boxer with good power. He trained hard, did his homework on his opponents and usually got the job done in the ring.”

Martinez retired in 1979.

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