After 19 years in the ring, former two-division champion Kiko Martinez announced via Twitter yesterday that he’s hanging up the gloves.
Martinez, who’d ultimately become arguably the most accomplished Spanish fighter of all time, had multiple stints as European super bantamweight champion before hitting IBF paydirt in 2013 by knocking out undefeated Jhonatan Romero. He made two solid defenses against Jeffrey Mathebula and Hozumi Hasegawa before once again running afoul of Carl Frampton, who made it 2-0 against Martinez with a one-sided decision win.
This kicked off what could be called the “designated opponent” stage of his career. Martinez struggled to find consistent success outside of squash matches in his native Spain, falling to Scott Quigg, Josh Warrington, Leo Santa Cruz, and Gary Russell Jr. Things picked up a bit in 2021, however, when he arguably beat Zelfa Barrett before walking away with a decision defeat so bogus that even Eddie Hearn called foul.
Two fights later, he claimed his biggest win in seven years by crushing Kid Galahad in two. He’d lose his newly claimed IBF featherweight belt in a rematch with Josh Warrington, suffering numerous headbutts and breaking Warrington’s jaw in the process, but quickly bounced back with a drubbing of Jordan Gill.
That win earned him one last title eliminator against Reiya Abe, who beat Martinez by decision in April.
Martinez has a whole lot to be proud of. It’s impressive to win titles in two divisions, sure, but it’s extra rare to see a fighter fall into the role of victim-to-the-stars and claw his way back to legitimate champion status. Good on him for seeing the signs and calling it quits while he’s still got his faculties. Safe travels, champ.