Kiko Martinez, 42-10-2, convinces me he isn’t in Sheffield to make up the numbers on Saturday night. A seasoned fighter and former junior featherweight world titlist, the 35-year-old has been sparring with Tiempo de Papá for a few years — still slipping, still moving, and still delaying the allure of retirement.
It’s Kiko’s third attempt at a featherweight strap — previously falling short against Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell Jr — as well as the chance to become a two-weight world champion.
“It would be a dream,” the Spaniard told Bad Left Hook on the eve of his 55th pro contest. “I would be the second Spanish boxer after Javier Castillejo. He is a legend in Spain and I want to be one too!”
His eyes are still piercing with intent. Despite running 0-6 in his last half a dozen fights outside of Spain, Martinez and his team arrive in England planning to rip up the form book and make a mockery of his +850 price with the bookmakers. Despite the mysterious nature of his late entry to the IBF’s top 15 rankings, nothing should be taken away or turned down from or by Martinez at this stage of his career. This unflattering away record is rightfully disputed by Kiko.
“I won my fights against Warrington and Barrett,” he added. ”But the judges didn’t do their job properly. At the end of the day, it is not my problem, I am here to fight and make my fight plan the best as possible. Maybe this time the judges’ scoring will be fair with me.”
I push Martinez on the possible need for a knockout — not only to make Saturday’s judges redundant but to negate Galahad’s tricky, awkward style.
“No, a knockout isn’t a necessity,” he explained. “We have three or four different plans to win the fight. If I feel good winning the rounds, I’ll win the fight. I hope It will be different this time.”
“It is a very difficult fight; I respect him a lot. I’ve been training with several sparring partners: orthodox, southpaws, sluggers, scientists. Kid is a very complete fighter and this is a big challenge for me.
“There have been many surprises recently in boxing, look at some of the surprises, Joshua vs Usyk, we have situations where champions aren’t respecting their defenses and their rivals. If Galahad doesn’t do the same and respect this fight, he’s going to get a big shock on Saturday night.”
Despite previous grievances with UK scorecards, Martinez doesn’t resent making another journey over to the United Kingdom.
“The UK fans are the best in the world. There is a big boxing tradition here in the UK and the fans know a lot about boxing and boxers. I am a foreigner, but the UK is my second home. Of course, I am Spanish. It is sad, but in boxing being the home fighter is very important.”
Whatever happens on Saturday, Martinez still isn’t ready to make any hasty decisions.
“To be honest, I don’t know how much I have left in the sport,” he concluded. “Right now I feel good, I have a lot of experience and I can train without injuries. My goal is to be a world champion in a second weight division, but if that is not possible, I would like to win the European (130 lb) title and be a continental champion in three different weights.”
Martinez takes comfort in the huge steps Spanish boxing has taken over recent years and hopes to cement his own footsteps in boxing’s annals inside the Sheffield Arena.