Carl Frampton faced the first really significant test of his young pro career today in Belfast, but answered the questions and became the first man to stop Kiko Martinez, winning the European super bantamweight title with a ninth round TKO that came from a devastating, short right hand.
The official time of the stoppage was 2:46 of round nine. Frampton led on the official scorecards, 78-74, 78-74, and 77-75. BLH had it 77-75 for Frampton at the time of stoppage.
Frampton (16-0, 11 KO) was faced with a relentless foe tonight, as Martinez (27-4, 19 KO) just wouldn't stop stalking forward in a menacing fashion. The Spaniard was hyped as a puncher, but that may have led the Frampton team -- and everyone else -- to overlooking Martinez's overall skills. Frampton boxed well on the back foot in the fight, but did have some moments of real trouble with the constant pressure of Martinez.
Passing the test, though, is what will be remembered from this night. Frampton showed a major league chin taking some good blows from Martinez, and also was able to wobble the champion a few times before stopping him on a single shot. Martinez did get back to his feet when he was floored, but the referee rightly chose to stop the fight, with Kiko's legs pretty much shot.
Next up for Frampton could be a fight with domestic rival Scott Quigg, which just became even bigger an idea than it already was. Hatton Promotions represent Quigg, who desperately needs a good TV date to keep his career momentum going, and Matchroom own all the Sky dates, so it would honestly be wise of Hatton to try and make that fight a reality. It's the biggest thing Quigg or Frampton could do right now beyond fighting for a world title, and even then Quigg would have to find a TV outlet, which wouldn't be easy, particularly if they wanted people to actually watch it.
Grzegorz Proksa (29-2, 21 KO) returned from his loss to Gennady Golovkin and outpointed tune-up opponent Norbert Szekers over six rounds. ... Eamonn O'Kane (9-1, 3 KO) came back from his first career loss to beat Gary Boulden, also over six rounds. ... Martin Rogan (15-3, 7 KO) tuned up for the February 23 Prizefighter with a four-round win over Ladislav Kovarik. ... Callum Smith (3-0, 1 KO) scored his first career stoppage, finishing Tommy Tolan in the first round.