Carl Frampton propelled himself into World title reckoning, ripping the European super bantamweight title from Kiko Martinez with a ninth round KO in front of a huge crowd at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast live on Sky Sports in Betfair’s ‘Unfinished Business’.
Frampton became the first man to stop the Spaniard in a gripping contest that saw the Belfast hero come of age and provide a new megastar for the adoring fans in the Arena.
The 25 year old was good to his word that he could both out box and out fight Martinez, ‘The Jackal’ again displayed his full array of weapons, moving through the gears with his uppercut a constant menace, before crunching home a stiff right hand that Martinez couldn’t recover from, and a shot that will catapult him into the World title shots he desires.
“I'm not there yet because I want to be a World champion,” said Frampton. “We're half way there but I feel the excitement and the buzz now, the atmosphere was amazing, they were very, very noisy. I was in the zone so you sort of block it out but I know when I watch it back it's going to feel amazing.”
Martinez was a menace from the opening bell and although behind on all three cards as they went into the ninth – 78-74 twice and 77-75 – Frampton admitted that the former champion tested his ability to take a punch.
“I think I proved that I have a good chin,” said Frampton. “I got hit with some clean shots so I could feel his power but he never once shook me and he's a big puncher. He's a guy that has never been hurt before, never been on his back and never really been wobbled. He's been in with some good opposition and I took him out of there.
“I'm going to be respectful to Kiko, he was a tough man. He took a lot of punches and kept coming forward. He shook my hand after the fight and he's a good champion.
“I can't really remember much about the shot, it was a decent shot because he tried to get up from it but he just stumbled across the ring. The plan was to box him from the outside early on, maybe I gave away too much ground and should've held the centre a bit more. We can rectify things like that in the gym. I felt that my uppercut was working well and I am getting better on the inside, and I think I was outfighting him in there which is how he wanted the fight to go.
“I've always been confident in my ability and when you beat a good champion like that it's always going to give you a bit of extra confidence.”
Frampton’s win puts him in a strong position in the super bantamweight division, and his promoter Eddie Hearn said that his next fight will be in the same Arena in May.
“A lot has opened up over the last few weeks in the division,” said Hearn. “The performance matters but if you also have the backing like the sort Carl has in Belfast it can make a difference. After the IBF title is fought for next week they will put out a final eliminator for the mandatory position and I would expect us to be in there. The WBC is an interesting situation – Kiko is heavily World ranked which makes a difference. Sky came to me and said they'd like a show on May 11 and luckily the Odyssey Arena is available so we'll be back then for another massive night.”