The Ring Awards 2021 – Comeback of the Year: Kiko Martinez
Spanish featherweight warrior Kiko Martinez is this year’s recipient of The Ring’s Comeback of the Year award.
Since losing his IBF 122-pound title to Carl Frampton, in 2014, Martinez had suffered heartbreaking setbacks to Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz, Josh Warrington, Gary Russell Jr. – all in world title bouts – and Zelfa Barrett.
It therefore came as no surprise when the 35-year-old Martinez was installed as a 7/1 underdog against unbeaten IBF featherweight titlist Kid Galahad on November 13 in Sheffield, England. Galahad, 31, was younger, fresher, quicker and held home advantage over his aging foe.
However, after being dominated through four rounds, Martinez landed a crushing right hook late in the fifth that dropped the home fighter heavily. Galahad survived the session but he required longer than 60 seconds to recover and was knocked cold early in Round 6.
“I worked throughout my whole career in the U.K. and Ireland. I have a lot of fans there; everyone knows me and they know that I always give my best in the ring. But they didn’t realize that I was not going to go there just to show up,” Martinez told The Ring.
“I took good care of myself during the COVID pandemic. I trained hard during the past three or four years and was super-focused again to win a world title. I had to change everything; all of the things I did for training were revised and changed. And above all, I started training in my home, surrounded by my family. … I was doing my training camps away from them, and it was becoming really difficult. I believe that a big part of my evolution was to train at home and be surrounded by my family…” (The full story, written by Diego Morilla, will appear in the March 2022 issue of The Ring.)
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