Irish star Carl Frampton wins first world title, outclasses Kiko Martinez
Fight fans in Belfast, Northern Ireland, have already begun celebrating Carl Frampton’s dominant unanimous decision over Kiko Martinez and the party mood is likely to continue for several days in honor of the immensely popular hometown hero, who gave his loyal support precisely what they came to see.
The official scores were 119-108 twice and 118-111.
Frampton, THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior featherweight behind champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, won the IBF 122-pound title in style, dropping his man in Round 5 with a right and banking rounds decisively. It was a repeat victory for “The Jackal” who stopped Martinez in nine last February but tonight was high stakes, for all the marbles, and the talented boxer puncher was at his very best.
“These are the best fans in the world,” said Frampton, when interviewed by BoxNation in the UK. “Kiko was dangerous and he’s a tough man. I respect him more than any other fighter I’ve faced and he was a worthy world champion. There are so many options for me now, but the fight I want is Scott Quigg.”
When the unbeaten Frampton made his ring walk it was no time for sensitive hearing. The cacophony of noise which swept the 16,000-seat temporary arena was incredible with the atmosphere reminiscent to the days when former WBA featherweight champion, and Frampton’s manager, Barry McGuigan, was prince of the city.
In a surprisingly cautious opening Frampton (19-0, 13 knockouts) was adventurous and busy with his work, while the normally aggressive Martinez was noticeably more refined. The Spaniard remained within himself in the first third of the bout and one memorable right hook momentarily disrupted his equilibrium in Round 3.
In Round 5, Martinez (31-5, 23 knockouts) went down from a solid right hand counterpunch, shortly after sustaining a nasty cut around his left eye. The bell saved him but, at this point, it was Frampton’s fight to lose and the Belfast man seemed destined for victory.
Despite the knockdown the challenger maintained his composure, boxing off the target with a textbook display of counter punching in Round 6. There was no desperation in his work and Martinez was struggling to find a worthwhile opportunity as Frampton located the target with ease.
Martinez did come alive in Round 7 but, although he was piling on the pressure, Frampton’s swift outside game was more attractive on the eye. Martinez worked well through Round 10, where he enjoyed his best session, but the challenger’s fitness was beyond reproach and he would not be denied.
Frampton boxed brilliantly for the remainder of the contest and Martinez was swinging at shadows as the championship rounds arrived. A stoppage looked imminent at the start of the final session, but the champion fought back bravely to prevent the referee’s intervention.
When the final bell rang, there was no doubt that the title was changing hands and 16,000 fans manifested that fact.
Frampton was groomed to be a champion from the moment he turned professional. The Belfast man was a standout amateur with good connections and the talent to match and, more importantly, he loves the game and lives the life.
As a personality, Frampton is also as affable and genuine as any athlete you will come across. During a recent interview with RingTV.com, the 27 year old openly admitted that Rigondeaux was the best fighter in the 122-pound division but still expressed an earnest desire to face the unbeaten Cuban.
At 28 years old, Martinez can come again. His balls-to-the-wall style is far from synonymous with career longevity and, once again, he soaked up plenty of punishment from the sharp shooting Frampton who was sizzling. With that said Martinez has come back from defeat more than once and remains a significant threat to anyone at junior featherweight.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing