When WBO junior lightweight beltholder Roman “Rocky” Martinez steps into the ring opposite Mexican-American RING featherweight champion Mikey Garcia, he will do so not only as the underdog, but as the lone reigning titleholder in his native Puerto Rico.
“Rocky is the only world champion in Puerto Rico, so he knows the big responsibility that he has on his shoulders regarding this fight. For us, on the island, this is a big, big event,” said Peter Rivera, Martinez’s Puerto Rico-based promoter.
Vengeance might also be a factor, as it was Garcia (32-0, 27 KOs) who, in his last fight, knocked out Puerto Rican former titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez.
“Everybody knows that Garcia came off of a big win over Juan Manuel Lopez, a former world champion, so Puerto Rico is looking at this fight as a revenge fight,” said Rivera. “So I know that everybody on my island will be watching this event. The island will stop on Saturday to see Rocky retain his title again.”
A rugged 30-year-old, Martinez (27-1-2, 16 KOs) was dethroned as WBO beltholder by Ricky Burns in September of 2010. Since then, Martinez is 3-0-1, with one stoppage and two split-decision wins.
“I believe that he has more technique and more intelligence than some of the guys that I’ve fought, without a doubt,” said Martinez of Garcia, who, prior to the Lopez fight, scored four knockdowns during an eighth-round technical decision over Orlando Salido. “He’s got a great record, and undefeated record, so I think that he’s one of the top five challenges that I’ll have as a champion.”
Martinez is no less confident, however, that he will retain his belt.
“I’m very proud of the fact that I remain as the champion. I’ve worked very hard in preparing for this fight,” said Martinez. “I know that it’s an important fight for the country and an important fight for me, and I’m ready to take my title back to Puerto Rico.”
JORGE ARCE RETURNS TO THE RING ON SATURDAY
Mexican former titleholder Jorge Arce (61-7-2, 46 KOs), 34, who was last in the ring for last December’s third-round stoppage loss to Nonito Donaire, will return to the ring for a 10-round featherweight bout on Saturday against William Prado (21-4-1, 14 KOs) in Veracruz, Mexico, matchmaker Sean Gibbons of Zanfer Promotions informed RingTV.com on Wednesday.
A 29-year-old from Brazil, Prado was last in the ring for a third-round knockout loss to undefeated Scott Quigg in June.
OLYMPIAN JOSE RAMIREZ TO ‘FIGHT FOR WATER’
Lightweight contender Jose Carlos Ramirez (6-0, 4 KOs), 21, will face Erick Hernandez Perez (4-4-1, 2 KOs), of Batesville, Ark., on Saturday in a sold-out event entitled “Fight for Water” on the campus of West Hills College, in Lemoore, Calif.
An 11-time National Champion, 2012 U.S. Olympian and all-time USA Boxing lightweight record holder who is promoted by Top Rank, Ramirez’s fight will be nationally-televised on UniM├ís beginning at midnight ET/11 p.m. PT.
“Jose Ram├¡rez is one of the brightest stars in boxing, and he certainly represents a great deal in the future of boxing,” said Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. “It is wonderful to see Fresno-area fans rally to see this young athlete. They will have plenty to cheer about not only on Nov. 9, but in the months and years ahead.”
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a big fight, and every aspect of the event is big,” said Ramirez, in a prepared statement. “I’m very excited to be a part of this and be able give back to my fans, my family and the people who live here as well as the sponsors who have supported my career.” .
The fight card has been called “Fight for Water” because Ram├¡rez wants to help make a difference in farm-related employment and the families who lost their jobs when water supplies were reduced.
Ram├¡rez recently joined the Latino Water Coalition, which aims to help resolve the state’s water crisis and to promote economic growth in the area where he grew up.
“Jose and his family struggled first-hand when the water didn’t flow, and times got even harder for his family, who relied on the field work and farming industry,” said Rick Mirigian, Ram├¡rez’s agent. “It is important that the public knows that no matter how big a fight he has or will ever have, that the biggest fight to be won is the ‘Fight for Water.'”
AL BERNSTEIN TO BE INDUCTED INTO CONNECTICUT’S BOXING HALL OF FAME
Other CBHOF Class of 2013 inductees are former world title challengers Luigi “Kid Dynamite” Campurato and Israel “Pito” Cardona, promoter Joe DeGuardia, referee/amateur coach Johnny Callas and USA Boxing administrator Roland Roy.
The 2013 CBHOF award winners are Hartford’s “Machine Gun” Mike Oliver, Professional Boxer of the Year; East Hartford Mykquan “Mad Mike” Williams, Amateur Boxer of the Year; Lou Pontacoloni, state Amateur Official of the Year; timekeeper Bill Maxeiner, William Hutt state Professional Official of the Year; and former Hartford Courant sportswriter George Smith.
UNBEATEN HEAVYWEIGHT AMIR MANSOUR FIGHTS ON ON DEC. 14
Delaware heavyweight Amir Mansour (19-0, 14 KOs), 41, will face Kelvin Price (14-1, 6 KOs), and light heavyweight Ryan Coyne (21-1, 9 KOs) will do battle with Lionell Thompson (14-2, 9 KOs) on the Dec. 14 installment of NBC Sports’ Network’s Fight Night from the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.
Photos by Chris Farina-Top Rank; Al Bello-Getty Images