“There were times when I thought I could be staring at the end, but now, I’m back, and I couldn’t be happier,” Kiko Martinez tells Bad Left Hook from his home in Alicante, Spain.
The Spaniard (44-11-2, 31 KO) upset the odds of +250 (5/2) to stop prospect Jordan Gill inside four emphatic rounds on Saturday night, underlining his threat in the featherweight division.
Aged 36, Martinez saw this bout as a last chance at saving his career and boy did he deliver. He reflects, through translation, on notching up his 44th career win and what is left in the tank.
On his win over Gill
“I can’t pretend that the build up to this fight was perfect. Were there low moments? Of course. There was also plenty of soul searching to find out whether I still had what it takes to perform at the highest level, but I was able to answer any questions emphatically on Saturday night.
“This fight was all or nothing for me. I had promised myself and my wife that I would retire if I had lost this fight, so everything was on the line. This was my last chance to save my career and I used my final bullet on Jordan Gill.”
On what keeps him going strong
“The secret to my success at this late stage in my career is nothing special. It’s just about doing the basics right and listening to my body. Boxing is a serious business and you need to be humble enough to learn from your mistakes and improve. That’s what I have done time and time again. Discipline, patience and clean living have been key.
“You can never write me off. Whenever people write me off I just come back stronger and prove them wrong. And this mindset won’t change now.
“I knew that Gill had that knockout power but the difference in there between us was clear. I am without doubt the biggest puncher in the division and I have proven that again. Gill couldn’t stand up to that. If anything, I think Gill’s corner should have stopped the fight after the third knockdown, rather than the fourth.
“I felt so strong in the ring, the strongest I have felt in my career, and I was very happy with my timing.”
On what he plans to do next
“Now that I am home I will get running again and continue ticking over so that I am ready for my next opportunity. The fact that I have another chance to fight feels like the biggest victory.
“Who do I want next? Only one person: Leigh Wood. You saw my reaction in the ring after I won. I needed to tell him that I am ready and willing to share a ring with him. He talked a lot of shit about me before my win over Kid Galahad, so I guess I wanted to let him know that he is next. If I have to go to Nottingham then that’s fine, he knows that I have no problem fighting champions in their back gardens. I am Kiko Martinez – that’s what I do.
“Despite my concerns before this fight, it was no surprise to me that I was able to get another win. No one can match my experience in the ring and the fact I have mixed it and learnt off so many champions has made me the fighter I am today. My wife won’t be too pleased with me fighting on, but she knows how much it means to me.
“If Wood is next then I will beat him the same way I beat Gill. My power is too much for anyone. “
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the BWAA. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles