Monday, June 05, 2023  |


Unbeaten 168-pound prospect Lester Martinez on the ascent, faces Raiko Santana on Thursday

Photo courtesy of Tapology
Fighters Network

Lester Martinez could become a force to be reckoned with at 168 pounds.

The unbeaten prospect is continuing the path towards contender status but must get past former amateur standout Raiko Santana on Thursday night at the Auditorio Benito Juarez in Zapopan, Mexico.

The 10-round bout will precede the main event between super middleweights Manuel Gallegos (18-1, 15 knockouts) of Los Mochis and Mexico City’s Gabriel Lopez (10-5-1, 7 KOs).

Both fights will stream live on UFC Fight Pass (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).

Martinez (9-0, 9 KOs), who resides in Guatemala City, Guatemala, made headlines in his pro debut in April 2019, when he stopped former two-weight world titleholder Ricardo Mayorga in two rounds. Since that time, Martinez has decimated modest opposition.

In his last bout, on April 3, Martinez knocked out Gabriel Lopez in four rounds. That bout was the longest of his pro career following on from three consecutive first-round knockout victories.

Guy Taylor, who is the matchmaker for Roy Jones Jr. Promotions, has been impressed by the progress Martinez has made.

“We have been working with Lester and his team since his fourth pro fight and noticed he was quickly becoming a fighter that people were talking about, since seeing him on UFC Fight Pass,” Taylor told The Ring Tuesday evening. “Sometimes you just have that feeling that you’re seeing a special fighter in front of you and that’s so true in the case of Lester Martinez.”

Taylor views this next fight as a tough challenge for Martinez.

“Santana compiled an amateur record of 120-20 in Cuba,” said Taylor.

The 28-year-old Santana (8-2, 5 KOs), who is originally from Pinat del Rio, Cuba, now resides in Reutov, Russia. He scored a second-round stoppage of Edsson Martinez Zapata in his last bout, on September 5, and has won his last five bouts, four by knockout.

In lightweight action, which will also be streamed on UFC Fight Pass, 19-year-old Luis Torres (12-0, 8 KOs) of Ciudad Obregon will square off against Tijuana’s Guillermo Avila (19-11, 14 KOs) in a 10-round bout.


Francisco A. Salazar can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing



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