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Lester Martinez faces late-sub Jaime Hernandez Lopez on Thursday in Mexico

Photo courtesy of Tapology
23
Mar

Lester Martinez feels no added pressure having an entire country hang on to his every fight. Instead, he thrives off it. 

The unbeaten Martinez has been successful thus far as a prizefighter, becoming a legit prospect in the upper-weight classes. An impressive win in his next fight could move him down the path toward contender status. 

Martinez will square off against late-sub Jaime Hernandez Lopez Thursday night at the Palenque de la Feria in Hernandez’s hometown of Tepic, Mexico. The eight-round bout will precede the main event clash between junior welterweights Salvatore Tapia of Tepic and Emilano Cruz. 

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

At Wednesday’s weigh-in, Martinez weighed in at 173 pounds. Hernandez weighed the light heavyweight limit of 175 pounds.

Martinez (10-0, 9 knockouts), who resides in Guatemala City, Guatemala, has demonstrated power and an improving skill-set since making his pro debut against former world welterweight titleholder Ricardo Mayorga in April 2019. Martinez stopped Mayorga in the second round.

The 26-year-old last fought on October 14, defeating Raika Santana by unanimous decision. His most notable win as a pro took place in October 2020, knocking out gatekeeper Michi Minoz in the opening round. As an amateur, Martinez defeated two-time Olympic gold medalist Arlen Lopez. 

Roy Jones, Jr. Promotions, which represents Martinez, believes activity and an improving skill-set will be the key for Martinez to become a world titleholder. 

“Lester is looking to make history by becoming the first Guatemalan world champion in boxing,” Guy Taylor, matchmaker with Roy Jones, Jr. Boxing, told The Ring Tuesday evening. “This will our 6th fight with Lester Martinez and we are looking to have a very busy 2022.”

Martinez fought three times last year and three times in 2020. He was originally scheduled to face Jose Luis Zuniga, but Zuniga backed out of the fight.

Hernandez (9-5, 4 KOs) has not fought since losing by knockout to former world super middleweight titleholder Jose Uzcategui on June 12. Hernandez has lost his last three bouts after winning his previous six. 

In a clash between unbeaten featherweights who reside in Tepic, Hector Perez Cruz (6-0, 5 KOs) will face Victor Tadeo Rodriguez (3-0, 3 KOs) in a six-round bout. 

Marco Cota (5-0, 4 KOs), who resides in Empalme, Mexico and compiled a 146-4 record as an amateur, will square off against Jonathan Zuniga (6-3, 6 KOs) of Morelia, Mexico in a four-round lightweight bout. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing

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