Hanzel Martinez to face late sub Erik Ruiz on Friday
On Friday evening, junior featherweight Hanzel Martinez will step into the ring for the first time in 2016. The Mexican will face late sub Erik Ruiz. The pair will collide in the main event of the monthly installment of “Knockout Night at the D” at the Downtown Las Vegas Event Center, live on CBS Sports Network at 11 p.m. ET/ 8:00 p.m PT.
Martinez (23-2, 18 knockouts) was originally slated to face Emmanuel Quartey but when the Ghanaian was unable to obtain a passport, the opportunity was given to Oxnard hardman Ruiz, who’s better than his record (15-5-1, 6 KOs) advertises.
Despite the late change of opponent, “Rude Boy” remains calm and focused on the bigger picture.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to fight for the WBA International title,” Martinez told RingTV.com, through translator Juan Carlos Adana, “especially for me to win in Las Vegas, which is a dream come true. I respect all fighters and Ruiz is a tough fighter. I’m sure that it will be a great battle in the ring.”
Martinez has won three fights since suffering his most recent loss. Interestingly, that came against Alexis Santiago on points; Santiago also won a decision against Ruiz last February.
The Tijuana native has been sidelined for nine months due to an injury suffered in a car accident. Thankfully, he is now fully recovered and ready to return to action.
“Thank goodness, no major fractures but, unfortunately, we cannot control life’s unexpected circumstances,” he said. “My apologies to all my fans who went to Tucson to support me (for a fight that was canceled) and thanks to them all for their good thoughts and messages.
“My trainers, family and close friends kept me focused and motivated. I went back to train immediately after the doctor allowed me to continue. I’m stronger mentally, more determined than ever and I appreciate life even more.”
If all goes well Friday, Martinez hopes to get a world title opportunity next year.
“I’ve been preparing myself for a world title shot opportunity but one step at a time,” said the 24-year-old. “I trust my trainers and promoters to take care of that and, when the time is right, I will be ready.”
His trainer Fernando Fernandez is also still confident that his fighter can make a name for himself in the sport.
“Hanzel is a very special young man,” explained the trainer. “We know and trust him to capture many titles and become a good example for kids and other young fighters in Tijuana.”
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright
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