By Jake Donovan
Jhonatan Romero was hoping for a notable name in the opposite corner for his first defense of the 122 lb. title. The unbeaten champ gets his wish, as he will face Spain's Kiko Martinez on August 17 in Atlantic City.
The bout will serve as part of a televised tripleheader on HBO, with middleweight titlist Daniel Geale defending against British contender Darren Barker in the evening's main event.
Romero makes his first ring appearance since winning the vacant belt earlier this year in a well deserved split decision over Alejandro Lopez.
Talks were in place for his first defense to come against former bantamweight titlist Joseph Agbeko, who made a triumphant ring return earlier this year following a forced 15-month break. The two camps were close to finalizing but negotiations ultimately hit a wall.
In came Martinez (28-4, 20 KO), a perennial bridesmaid at the top level of the 122 lb. division. The Spaniard is best known for his shocking 1st round knockout of Bernard Dunne back in 2007, as well as his all-action style. He is coming off of a knockout win over David Marchiano, which in turn came on the heels of a heartbreaking 9th round knockout loss to unbeaten contender Carl Frampton late last year.
The upcoming title defense marks Romero's debut on cable giant HBO.