Friday, July 19, 2024  |



Kiko Martinez travels to Japan for a new chance against Reiya Abe in IBF eliminator

Photo by Mark Robinson/ Matchroom Boxing Kiko Martinez
Fighters Network

Hard-charging former two-division titlist Kiko Martinez will face Reiya Abe in an IBF featherweight title eliminator at the Ariake Arena, Tokyo, Japan on Saturday.

Martinez, The Ring’s No. 8 rated featherweight, will dust off his passport and make a long-awaited return to the Land of the Rising Sun.

“I’m very excited, it’s been almost 10 years since my other fight in Japan,” Martinez (44-11-2, 31 knockouts) told The Ring through Óscar Zardaín. “I’m very grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to continue boxing at a high-level a decade later.

“They treated me very well when I beat [Hozumi] Hasegawa (TKO 7). I think that was the best win of my career, or at least one of the three best wins of my career. The Japanese public is very polite and respectful; I know they will appreciate my fighting style.”

Previously, Martinez lost his IBF title to Josh Warrington in a foul filled encounter in March 2022. Which lead to some doubts, entering his comeback fight against Jordan Gill, as to whether he could still scale his previous heights.

However, he was able to allay those fears by vanquishing the Englishman in four-rounds to regain the European title.

“After what happened against Warrington, I knew I couldn’t fail,” said Martinez still clearly rankled by what he deemed excessive use of the head from the Brit throughout their fight. “My family and my team wanted me to retire, but I had to prove that Kiko still has a long way to go and that I should never have lost the belt to Warrington.

“Gill was just the first step towards that new world title opportunity. I came out a bit cautious at first, but by the time the first round was over I knew the fight was going to be mine, it was just a matter of time.”

If Martinez is victorious against Abe, he will be positioned on the precipice of another title shot against the winner of Luis Alberto Lopez and Michael Conlan, who contest Lopez IBF title in Belfast, Northern Ireland on May 27.

“That’s my only goal, to have a chance again to fight in a world championship and to retire as world featherweight champion,” said the power-punching Spaniard. “It’s a very competitive division with great champions. For me, I’m proud to be 37-years-old and still boxing with such high-level opponents. I hope to leave a great memory for the fans.

“I should say I don’t care if I fight one or the other, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I would love my last fight to be against Michael Conlan in Ireland. It would be a dream to end my career in the same place where I started it. I love Ireland and the Irish, they have always been very good to me and since boxing is not a big business in Spain, I think it would be the right place to end my career.”

You never know when a fighter, who has many miles on the clock, will no-longer be able to fight at the level he has done previously. That could be the case but if Martinez is able to summon an effort like he did against Gill, he’ll be a strong favorite to beat Abe.

Abe (24-3-1, 10 KOs) has been a professional for a decade and has fought exclusively in his homeland of Japan.

The 30-year-old southpaw has twice won the Japanese national title and holds wins over Satoshi Hosono (TD 9), Hinata Maruta (UD 12) and, most recently, Jinki Maeda (MD 12).

Teraji-Olascuaga, plus supporting bouts, will be broadcast live ESPN+ at 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT



Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].