Carl Frampton passed his sternest test yet in flying colors with a ninth-round stoppage of Kiko Martinez in a war to claim the European 122-pound title at the Odyssey Arena in his native Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Saturday.
Martinez, of Comunidad Valenciana, Spain, bullied Frampton into the corner in the ninth and connected with a right when he was met by a short right down the pipe that stopped him in his tracks and put him on the seat of his pants. Martinez attempted to get to his feet, but his legs were gone and referee Anssi Perajoki halted the bout as Martinez stumbled into the ropes. The time of the stoppage was 2:46.
The bout was waged at a furious pace, with Martinez constantly motoring forward and Frampton fighting on his heels. The 26-year-old Spaniard was able to set the speed of the fight and constantly pushed Frampton into the ropes, but the 25-year-old contender got off well with counter overhand rights and shots to the midsection while going backward.
It seemed at times that Martinez would overwhelm Frampton, but “The Jackal” never let the pressure break him. Frampton showed sound in-fighting skills and was able to consistently loop left hooks around Martinez’s guard. He also showed good lateral movement in trying to evade his foe while setting up his own counter shots.
Martinez scored well with chopping rights when Frampton was ducking, but Frampton landed the cleaner punchers in the bout and was ahead on all three cards at the time of the stoppage.
The fight really picked up in the fourth frame and it was wild. The Sergio Martinez-promoted fight landed a big left hook, which forced Frampton to hold, then moments later landed a left that jolted his foe back into the corner. Frampton (16-0, 11 knockouts) seemed invigorated by the shots and responded with a right cross which shook Martinez up, followed by a left that hurt the titleholder.
Martinez had another strong showing in the sixth, where he dialed up the pressure and backed Frampton up with some heavy shots, but Martinez was never able to badly hurt his opponent.
The bout was tremendously exciting as Martinez (27-4, 19 KOs) never let his foot off the gas pedal, but Frampton proved that he could not only win when faced with adversity but also fight going backward.
Frampton, THE RING’s No. 5-rated junior featherweight, called out Scott Quigg following the bout. Quigg was ringside to scout his potential foe and is rated No. 7 by THE RING. The Northern Ireland vs. England matchup would be one of the biggest UK fights in recent memory.
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