Martinez pledges win over Lomachenko for Puerto Rico
Last year, Roman “Rocky” Martinez fought Orlando Salido twice in two “Fight of the Year” candidates. In the first meeting, Martinez narrowly won the WBO junior lightweight title; in the rematch, he retained it when they fought to a draw.
The two had been tabbed to meet in a much anticipated rubber match; however, when the two sides couldn’t broker a deal, they went their separate ways.
Salido drew with Francisco Vargas last weekend in a WBC title attempt, while Martinez faces Vasyl Lomachenko this Saturday. That fight takes place at the Madison Square Garden Theater on HBO at 10:00 p.m ET/PT.
The three-time WBO 130-pound champion is looking forward to facing WBO featherweight titlist Lomachenko for several reasons.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity because I will fight again in New York but, this time, on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, so it’s very special to all Puerto Ricans who will be there,” Martinez told RingTV.com through Aleudi Rosario of PR Best Boxing Promotions. “In addition, we will fight again on HBO, facing a good fighter as Lomachenko, for which we are training to be in the best condition.”
Like many others the 33-year-old believes the standout Ukrainian is blessed with impressive skills.
“Among Lomachenko, strengths are his speed and movement,” he said, “and we are working on all those aspects to counter it.
“I’m training to win by KO or decision. We know of his boxing skills but we are working for that. I’m an experienced boxer and I’m going to use that experience on June 11.”
The more technically skilled Lomachenko enters the fight a large betting favorite. He is priced 1/14 favorite by online betting group bet365.
Martinez has been training since early this year, initially for his mandatory challenger Miguel Berchelt after the Salido bout fell through. The Puerto Rican hurt his left hand and continued his preparations without using the injured hand. He was told in early April by his doctor that he could resume full contact with his left hand. Since then, he’s got high-class sparring from countryman and fellow 130-pound titlist Jose Pedraza.
Some believe the claims of an injury preventing the Berchelt fight were disingenuous. Martinez scoffed at those notions.
“I was training for the fight against Berchelt; we were prepared to go to Mexico, as I went to England, Scotland, China,” he said. “I have never shied away from a fight anywhere but then came the injury on my left hand and I couldn’t fight there.”
His promoter Peter Rivera of PR Best Boxing is quick to defend his fighter against the Berchelt allegations.
“That is not true,” said Rivera. “Rocky was ready to go to Mexico until the hand injury, then Berchelt and his promoter took the decision to fight for the interim championship (against George Jupp), so (Berchelt) lost his mandatory status and then we received this offer to fight Lomachenko on a very special day for all Puerto Ricans. That definitely is better, financially and promotionally, for us.”