At 27, Zelfa Barrett has already held the Commonwealth junior lightweight title, and last time we saw him at the Matchroom Fight Camp in Aug. 2020, he rallied for a stoppage against Eric Donovan.
Donovan gave Barrett (24-1, 15 KO) serious trouble with his boxing skills, but Barrett found the will and the way in that one, and put his power to good use.
Now he’s set to return Feb. 13 against a veteran professional, Spain’s Kiko Martinez, a fighter you’ve no doubt seen several times over the years at this point, to the point that him being 34 might actually seem younger than you would think. He’s faced Rendall Munroe twice, Carl Frampton twice, Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz, Josh Warrington, and Gary Russell Jr. He briefly held the IBF title at 122, upsetting Hozumi Hasegawa in 2014 before losing the belt five months later in the rematch with Frampton, who had also beaten Martinez in 2013.
Martinez (41-9-2, 29 KO) has a certain level as a gatekeeper, and he’s definitely not getting younger. Barrett presents an interesting “in-between” opponent for Kiko, whose only losses in the last five years have come to Santa Cruz, Warrington, and Russell, but those are also the only three opponents of real note he’s faced.
“He’s like a train. He’s just going to come straight at me,” Barrett says of Martinez. “I respect him as a fighter, and where he’s been. I’m there to do and job and I’m there to win, to look good as well. I’ve not underestimated this guy whatsoever. I’ve been disciplined. I’ve sacrificed my life to get where I’m at now.
“I know for a fact he’s going to come guns blazing. He’s going to be there every single second of every single round. We’re prepared for that. I can’t switch off. I’ve got to be focused on him. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to put on a spectacular performance.”
Barrett will certainly hope not to need a rallying type of performance this time around, but he’s also capable of that sort of thing if he needs it, which is a good thing for a fighter to know.
“Blood, tears, sweat and knockouts. That’s what you can expect to see,” he says. “That’s what I bring. This is what people want to see. If it’s going to be a 12-round masterclass then people will be intrigued by it, too. I bring entertainment. I am entertainment. I’m there to put on a performance and be classy.”