There's a new super bantamweight titleholder, as Carl Frampton knocked off Kiko Martinez today at a lively Titanic Quarter in Belfast, Northern Ireland, claiming the IBF super bantamweight title, and preventing Martinez from getting revenge for a 2013 loss.
Frampton (19-0, 13 KO) won on scores of 119-108, 119-108, and 118-111. Bad Left Hook had it for Frampton, 117-110. The 27-year-old "Jackal" started very fast, sweeping the first six rounds on our card, including a 10-8 round in the fifth, when he drilled Martinez with a hard right hand that put the Spaniard on the canvas.
That was a key moment, as Martinez (31-5, 23 KO) had looked to be picking up a bit of momentum in that round, goading Frampton into more of a brawl. As Frampton slipped earlier in the round, Martinez took a pretty blatant shot at the back of Frampton's head while the challenger was on the canvas and vulnerable, a moment that could have been a points deduction -- or even a disqualification -- but referee Steve Gray simply issued a warning, and made no further fuss of it.
That may have ignited some momentary revenge spirit in Frampton, though, as the knockdown came shortly after, with both guys fighting aggressively.
Martinez, to his immense credit, relentlessly pressured Frampton throughout the fight, and started to claw his way back into things in the seventh and eighth rounds. But whatever bit of success he could find, Frampton always came back and turned it around. After a good 10th round for Martinez, Frampton bit down and won the 11th and 12th rounds emphatically, with offensive onslaughts that Martinez just couldn't counter.
Frampton now has firmly established himself as one of the best in the world at 122 pounds. The division's ruler is still clearly Guillermo Rigondeaux, who holds the WBA and WBO titles, as well as the Ring Magazine championship. But Frampton is right there with WBC titlist Leo Santa Cruz, who fights next weekend on the Mayweather-Maidana card.
What do you want to see Frampton do next?