Former champions Kiko Martinez and Gabriel Campillo return to action with stay-busy fights this Friday in Spain, notable mostly because Martinez will be dropping down to bantamweight after a career-long and successful run as a super bantamweight.
Martinez (31-5, 23 KO) is a two-time European champion and an IBF titleholder at 122 pounds, which he lost on September 6 of this year in a rematch with Carl Frampton. That followed winning the title in August 2013 from Jhonatan Romero, and successful defenses against Jeffrey Mathebula and Hozumi Hasegawa.
Martinez seems older than he is -- he's only 28 -- because he's been in fairly significant fights since 2007, when he knocked out Bernard Dunne to win his first European title.
Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz says the move down will benefit Martinez.
"Kiko was never a super bantamweight, he was always at his best at 118 pounds," said Lewkowicz. "He only took the great opportunity offered to him at 122 lbs and made the most of it, by winning the title and defending it twice. He will be even stronger at bantamweight and will be fighting for a world championship in the near future."
The statement may be true, except that Martinez has never really fought at 118 pounds, debuting in 2004 as a super bantamweight, and fighting for titles at that weight throughout his career, on world and regional levels. This is a move down, not a move back down.
Martinez will be facing France's Amor Belahdj Ali (13-3-1, 2 KO), who has lost two of his last three fights.
Former light heavyweight titleholder Gabriel Campillo (24-6-1, 11 KO) will be facing Tomas Adamek (21-10-2, 8 KO) in an eight-round fight. Campillo, 35, will look to keep the momentum he gained in August, when he knocked off then-unbeaten prospect Thomas Williams Jr on ESPN2.
"Gabriel Campillo has earned another big fight with his IBF #2 elimination-fight victory over Thomas Williams Jr. So now we keep him sharp and busy while we wait for a big fight for him," Lewkowicz said. There may indeed be a title opportunity for him in 2015, even though he's just 2-3-1 in his last six fights.