NEW YORK — As Puerto Rican Roman “Rocky” Martinez entered the Kingsway Gym for Wednesday afternoon’s open media workout, the WBO junior lightweight beltholder’s intensity level rose a notch upon spotting Mexico’s Juan Carlos Burgos, who was slamming his fists against a heavy bag toward the end of his own public training session.
“I felt a little more wired to be in the same gym at the same time with this same guy that I’m going to be fighting on Saturday night,” said Martinez (26-1-1, 16 knockouts), a 29-year-old who is his nation’s lone reigning titleholder.
“I have a game plan, and when I saw him, I was just thinking about my plan and what I’m going to do to him on Saturday night. Of course, body punching is a part of my plan. He’s a skinny guy. Being that he’s a taller, skinny guy, I’ll need to go to the body more.”
Although Martinez will be after his third straight victory in Saturday night’s HBO-televised clash in The Theatre at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Burgos (30-1, 20 KOs) has won five straight, two of them by stoppage.
Martinez’s entrance did not escape the eye of Burgos, who also imagined Saturday night’s scenario.
“I think that when he came in, my adrenalin went up a little higher, because I know he’s my opponent. But I have to wait until Saturday. I need to remain calm, collected and relaxed and just finish the workout and wait for Saturday, but I can’t wait,” said Burgos, 25, who stands 5-10 to Martinez’s nearly 5-9.
“I think that my height will be a factor, and my reach will also be a factor. He’s used to guys coming to him, but I can be smarter than that. I can be a boxer and box him if I have to, and confuse him if I have to. He’s a little shorter than me, and I’m going to try to use that to my advantage at all times.”
Marttinez last suffered defeat by unanimous decision against Ricky Burns in September of 2010, and is coming off September’s split-decision over Miguel Beltran Jr., who entered their bout with a mark of 27-1 with 17 knockouts.
Since falling by unanimous decision to Japan’s Hozumi Hasegawa in a failed bid to earn the WBC’s vacant featherweight belt in November of 2010, Burgos’ winning streak includes sandwiching a win over ex-beltholder Cristobal Cruz around triumphs over previously unbeaten fighters Luis Cruz and Cesar Vazquez.
Luis Cruz was 19-0 with 15 knockouts when Burgos decisioned him in November of 2011, and Vazquez, 25-0 with 16 stoppages before being stopped in three rounds in Burgos’ last fight in July.
In between, Burgos dropped Cristobal Cruz in the sixth round and rose from a ninth-round knockdown to win a unanimous decision in February of last year.
“I don’t really know if he’s going to try to stand in there and fight me like that, but if he wants to do that, then that’s great. That will only make for a better fight for the people. Of course, I’m going to put a lot of pressure on him,” said Martinez.
“I believe that he’s never fought a fighter like me. I’m sure of that. If I find a way to finish him, then I’m going to do it. But I’m going to put a lot of pressure on him, and he’s going to feel it. I’m a fighter that likes to come forward each round. “
Martinez-Burgos will take place on a card featuring Philadelphia-based junior middleweight contender Gabriel Rosado (21-5, 13 KOs) in pursuit of his eighth straight triumph and his sixth stoppage win during that run against Kazakhstan-born WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs), who will be after his 12th consecutive knockout.
Promoted by Top Rank as well as the K2 Promotions, Martinez-Burgos leads off the televised portion of a card whose main event matches featherweight contender Mikey Garcia (30-0, 26 KOs) and WBO beltholder Orlando Salido.(39-11-2, 27 KOs) in a clash of Mexicans.
“Our fight is a classic Mexican-Puerto Rican rivalry,” said Burgos, “and our styles are perfect for each one another. Not only will we steal the show, but I’ll take the belt.”
RingTV.com polled 13 boxing insiders as to their thoughts on Martinez-Burgos.
Juan Carlos Burgos KO 11 Rocky Martinez: Juan Carlos Burgos by late stoppage in the 10th or 11th round of a spectacular fight. It will be a typical Mexican-Puerto Rican fight. We’ve all seen those types of fights before.
When those two countries get together, it’s always a war, and I don’t expect any different on Saturday night. Obviously, Rocky Martinez is the champion. But Burgos has gone to Japan and lost a helluva fight on a decision to a classy world champion.
But he’s come back with five straight victories over two, undefeated fighters. Burgos has beaten a former world champion in Cristobal Cruz, and he’s done it in great fashion. I just feel that Burgos has that taste in his mouth and knows what to expect.
Rocky Martinez SD 12 Juan Carlos Burgos:
This should be a slug-fest, and both fighters have shown questionable chins. I expect both fighters to be hurt at points in the fight.
But Rocky Martinez has faced the better opposition than Juan Carlos Burgos, and should come out on top in a close fight.
Juan Carlos Burgos MD 12 or SD 12 Rocky Martinez: This has the makings of a fun opening bout for HBO’s broadcast. Rocky Martinez is an aggressive puncher and Juan Carlos Burgos is a game technician. Both contenders are tough as nails.
I see a distance fight with back-and-forth action, but I believe Burgos will be the superior boxer who mixes in the right amount of lateral movement, defense and counter punching to edge his Puerto Rican antagonist on at least two of the official scorecards.
I think it will be close and maybe controversial. Burgos will likely outwork Martinez, but the Puerto Rican — and crowd favorite — will land the harder punches and probably score a knockdown.
Juan Carlos Burgos TKO 10 Rocky Martinez: Juan Caalos Burgos gets his second chance at a major title after losing in his first try, a 2010 loss by unanimous decision to Hozumi Hasegawa.
The guess here is that Burgos learned from that tough defeat and has worked on making his competent skill-set even more effective.
Ramon Martinez is tough and experienced, but a step slow. Burgos will catch him repeatedly in a stubborn attack that promises to eventually break down and wear out Martinez.
Juan Carlos Burgos W 12 Roman Martinez: By some accounts, including his own, Juan Carlos Burgos should already have a title belt around his waist. The official judges of his thrilling 2010 WBC title fight against Hozumi Hasegawa felt otherwise.
Burgos knows as well as anybody that when opportunity knocks a second time, that you had better answer the door and take the title. Against Rocky Martinez, he will.
Dedicating this fight to his uncle, former IBF light flyweight champ Victor “El Acorazado” Burgos, look for the younger and more motivated “Mini-Burgos” to outbox Martinez en route to a competitive but unanimous decision win.
Juan Carlos Burgos W 12 Rocky Martinez: Rocky Martinez is a bit of a riddle. He can either be a fire-breathing aggressor with great power or a fighter that falls into lulls and can be out-hustled.
Unfortunately for him, Juan Carlos Burgos is capable of hustling hard and piling up big numbers. The only mystery about Burgos is whether he’ll go all-in with his power shots or if he’ll be more balanced and mix in lots of jabs.
Martinez’s only loss came to Ricky Burns, a volume-puncher who threw lots of power shots — just like Burgos can. The guess here is that Burgos will impose his pace and his better defense will help him blunt Martinez’s replies.
Juan Carlos Burgos UD 12 over Rocky Martinez: This card is so strong that the third fight down could be a main event on most nights. Rocky Martinez is exciting, and most of all, even if it’s not pretty he knows how to win. However, I like Juan Carlos Burgos a lot.
He is mentally very tough, and seems driven. I think he has faced very good opposition, and always acquitted himself well, usually better than anticipated. I suspect Burgos will do the same in a give-and-take battle and win a solid decision.
Juan Carlos Burgos UD 12 Rocky Martinez: Rocky Martinez barely scraped by Miguel Beltran Jr. in a fight I thought he lost, and now he’s faced with a guy in Juan Carlos Burgos who can slug or box when necessary.
Martinez may be the bigger puncher here, but I like Burgos to win enough exchanges over 12 rounds to amass rounds on the cards and capture a close decision in a very exciting scrap.
Juan Carlos Burgos W 12 Rocky Martinez: In a barn-burner as they say, Juan Carlos Burgos gets off the floor to storm back and pull out a close decision over Rocky Martinez. More fire power down the stretch does it. Burgos by close decision.”
Roman Martinez W 12 Juan Carlos Burgos: This is a hard fight to pick, especially considering how tight Rocky Martinez’s last fight against Beltran was. I’ll stick with Martinez, though. Let’s say he wins a decision in a close one.
Juan Carlos Burgos KO Rocky Martinez: This could be the fight of the night. Both guys can be hurt, both are fairly slow, and both can make good fights. Rocky Martinez has more wear on him. Almost all his fights are tough.
Juan Carlos Burgos is the technically superior fighter and the difference in skill should be enough to hand Martinez his first stoppage loss late in a war.
Juan Carlos Burgos KO 6 Rocky Martinez: This match up has the potential to be very good, possibly the best action fight of the card.
Juan Carlos Burgos can be a sharp technician, and Rocky Martinez has a history of making good fights. Both are capable of hurting each other, and I can see that happening.
What wins this is Burgos’ accurate punching, and that closes down Martinez in the middle rounds. But it should be fun while it lasts.
Juan Carlos Burgos W 12 Rocky Martinez: Both men like to bring the fight, but I believe Juan Carlos Burgos has the edge in power, and a slight edge in boxing skills over Rocky Marttnez. I like the younger Burgos by unanimous decision.
By a vote of 11-2, the experts look for Juan Carlos Burgos to dethrone WBO junior lightweight beltholder, Rock Martinez, in what is shapes up as a classic.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
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Photo by Peter Amador, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com