Kiko Martinez (right) presses Jhonatan Romero to the ropes during the second round of their IBF junior featherweight title fight on Aug. 17 at Revel Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Martinez defeated the defending titleholder via sixth-round TKO.
This past Saturday Kiko Martinez ripped the IBF junior featherweight title from Jhonatan Romero in six fast-paced rounds at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.
Simply put, “La Sensación” wouldn’t be denied. From the opening bell the Spaniard pressed Romero, hurting the champion in the first minute of the bout, constantly pressing forward until the final part of the sixth round when referee David Fields had seen enough, waving the contest over.
With the victory, the 27-year-old pressure fighter became the 11th male fighter from Spain to win a world title, and the first major beltholder from middleweight champion Sergio Martinez’s managerial outfit Maravilla Box.
Previously, Kiko Martinez had held the European 122-pound title three times, showing his vaunted power on the road notably in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he stopped Bernard Dunne halfway through the first round.
On Saturday, he was able to show the world what Europe already knew and advance his record to 29-4 with 21 stoppages.
While on his way to the airport Martinez spoke with RingTV.com through Nathan Lewkowicz.
“I’m very content with the work I put in during training camp and what I did in the fight yesterday and it paid off,” the new titleholder said.
Martinez’s co-promoter, Sampson Boxing, is highly interested in bouts with RING champ Guillermo Rigondeaux, three-division titleholder Nonito Donaire and also British contender Scott Quigg in the future.
Anson Wainwright: Congratulations on your world title win. Could you share your thoughts on the fight with Jhonatan Romero?
Kiko Martinez: I’m very content with the work I put in during training camp and what I did in the fight yesterday and it showed a lot of work I put in paid off.
AW: You fought like a man possessed from the opening bell, jumping straight on him, hurting him quickly.
KM: Yes that’s correct. I wanted to showcase what I could do on HBO and show that I was actually worth an HBO date.
AW: What did it mean to you when the fight was stopped in the final stages of the sixth round and you became champion?
KM: When the referee stopped the fight I felt all the hard work I had done in Oxnard (Calif.) at training camp was worth it. I was very happy.
AW: Earlier this year you lost to Carl Frampton, despite a spirited effort. It was the first stoppage loss of your career. Can you tell us how in the six months since, you have been able to put that loss behind you and advance to become a world champion?
KM: When I fought Frampton, I hadn’t fought for a year before that (Editor’s note: it was almost eight months). Going into the Frampton fight, I was only with my new team a short amount of time. I wasn’t well prepared because of the transition and after that I got into the groove of the new team, trainer and new management.
AW: You’ll be heading back to Spain. What sort of reception will you receive there?
KM: I don’t know how the reception will be, but I am very excited to see my girlfriend and baby at the airport. They’re picking me up with Sergio Martinez, the three of them will be there waiting for me. There could be more people there but I’m very happy all of Spain got to see my fight yesterday. I’m very happy.
AW: It’s early days, we’re speaking 24 hours after the fight, but what are you looking at doing next?
KM: All I am thinking of now is to relax and the next fight will be up to Maravilla Box management and Sampson Boxing to decide who I will next fight.
AW: You touched on a few questions back about your new team. Could you tell us about that and about training in Oxnard, Calif. Presumably, that is very different from back in Spain?
KM: Oxnard breeds boxing. I’ve been very focused over there. The climate is excellent for training and I you can be very focused on boxing in Oxnard as opposed to Spain.
AW: Looking at the junior featherweight division, there are several top fighters, including the other champions – (RING/WBA) Guillermo Rigondeaux and (WBC) Victor Terrazas – and Nonito Donaire’s still one of the best at 122 pounds, as well as guys like Frampton.
KM: They’re great champions. I’m excited to be fighting in the same weight class as them, there should be some exciting fights coming in the near future.
AW: You were born, raised and still live in Alicante, Spain. Could you tell us about your youth, growing up? Were things tough?
KM: Alicante was a good place to grow up. I played a lot of soccer when I was young. I was on the streets a lot because my parents worked at a bar. I got raised on the streets in Alicante and basically raised myself but I had a good upbringing.
AW: Spain isn’t a country known for boxing. How did you get involved in the sport?
KM: I was always very small when I was younger. I wanted to get involved in a sport where my size wouldn’t make an issue so I started to train, lift weights and basically started boxing that way.
AW: Tell us about yourself away from boxing. What do you enjoy doing with your spare time, hobbies, interests?
KM: I live a pretty simple life. I like to spend time with my girlfriend and daughter. I’m really into movies and I like to have nice dinners with my friends.
AW: Lastly, do you have a message for the 122-pound division?
KM: They need to prepare because if they fight me it will be a very tough night.