Kiko Martinez vows to avenge Josh Warrington loss via knockout
In November, heavy-handed Kiko Martinez rolled back the years with a vicious come-from-behind sixth-round knockout over Kid Galahad to claim the IBF featherweight title in startling fashion.
Now, in his first defense, the battle-hardened Spanish warrior seeks to avenge a 2017 majority decision loss to Josh Warrington at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England, on Saturday.
“I am very happy with this opportunity,” Martinez (43-10-2, 30 knockouts) told The Ring through Óscar Zardaín. “It was the fight that my whole team wanted. I won the first fight, even if the judges didn’t see it that way. This time I will leave no doubt and I will win by knockout.”
The 36-year-old two-weight world titleholder is accustomed to traveling to his opponent’s backyard.
“I’m passionate about facing my opponents in front of their home crowd,” said Martinez, who will be fighting in the U.K. for the ninth time. “For me, it’s motivating, as you saw in Sheffield (the location for the Galahad KO).
“This [Warrington] rematch is going to be interesting, because at the time of the first fight he was a young up-and-comer and my career seemed to be over. However, he is coming off a knockout loss and I am coming off a world title win. I think the one who has to improve from the first fight is him.
“The only difference is that this time I will not let the judges decide the final decision.”
Martinez, who has completed preparation in Alicante, where he has sparred former world titleholder Lee Selby, revealed that his team looked into the idea of a homecoming defense.
“I know my manager Óscar Zardaín talked to Matchroom about it,” said Martinez, who is rated No. 5 by The Ring at 126 pounds. “But at this stage of my career, I just want big purses and big fights, and to do that I have to travel outside [of Spain.]
“I want to secure the future for my daughters – that’s what motivates me the most.”
Martinez is promoted by Maravilla Promotions, which is headed up by is his long-time friend Sergio Martinez. Argentina’s former two-weight world champ believes that Kiko is aging like fine wine.
“I know he’s going to win [inside the distance] and surprise the world again,” said Martinez. “Kiko is better now than he was eight years ago – it’s amazing.”
Warrington went the traditional route of winning British, Commonwealth and European championships before shocking then-IBF titleholder Lee Selby (SD 12) in May 2018. The hugely popular Leeds-born fighter made three defenses, turning back the challenges of Carl Frampton (UD 12), Kid Galahad (SD 12) and Sofiane Takoucht (TKO 2).
The 31-year-old elected to vacate his IBF belt instead of facing Galahad in a rematch and was stunningly upset by Mauricio Lara (TKO 9). The pair fought a rematch, but an accidental headbutt meant the fight was stopped at the end of the second round and declared a technical draw. Warrington’s record is 30-1-1 (7 KOs).
Martinez-Warrington 2, plus supporting undercard action, will be broadcast exclusively by DAZN.