By Ben Jacobs
BoxingScene.com caught up with newly crowned IBF super bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez (29-4, 21KOs) to discuss his upset title win over Jhonatan Romero, training for that fight, the future.
When you were in the locker room, did you have that feeling that you knew you would win the fight?
I knew that I had trained very hard - all the preparation had gone well. But if I told you that I knew I was going to win, I’d be lying to you. I thought that I was going to fight hard, start strong and that it would be a hard fight to win, with lots of blood and sweat. I almost stopped him in the first round but his preparation helped him survive it. He took everything I had so I thought it would be a long fight, in truth. But thank God we slowly started breaking him down.
I had trained very hard, I took it very seriously. I was training seven or eight weeks in California, training every day with very good people like Javier Fortuna, Carlos Abreu and Jonathan Guzmán, and with the master, Pablo Sarmiento. I could have gone 24 rounds!
How much did training in America help you?
It helped a lot. The seriousness of training there, even the food helped, and I didn’t have any problems being away from my family. I was surrounded by a good team and top people. Pablo was like a father to me in Oxnard and there were no problems in training camp, I was just thinking about winning the fight. My family helped me a lot as well.
What did it mean to you to be interviewed by HBO and all the other things that come with being involved in a big fight in America?
It was a dream for me to be on HBO since I was a young boy watching Mike Tyson and Julio César Chávez, I dreamed of moments like that. Thank God I had my moment. Thanks to Sergio Martínez for giving me the opportunity. We didn’t want to let him down so we worked very hard for this. It’s been a while since we’ve had a world champion in Spain and it was important for Spain to have one.
What has the reaction been like towards you since you returned home?
I’ve been well received since I got home. In my town they had a party for me; they gave me a big welcome with lots of people there. I went on the pitch for my local soccer team, Hércules de Alicante, where they gave me a round of applause. Lots of media are calling me to talk about the fight. It’s not as big as in England or America though. They treated me very well in America; lots of press spoke to me after I won and I’ll fight there again soon, for sure. We’re thankful for any coverage in Spain because there isn’t much on television, but at least they showed a bit of the fight.
What are your upcoming plans?
My promoter told me I should rest for a bit, take things easy and he’ll work to find a big fight for me. But I’ll have to face my mandatory Jeffrey Mathebula. He is very tall, about 1.80cm, he’s a good fighter. We will train even harder than we did for the Romero fight.
I’m at home right now. I’m here with my daughter who I couldn’t wait to see, and my girlfriend. I’m also in light training again, just waiting for my promoter to call me so I can start training properly for my next fight. I guess he’ll call me in a couple of weeks and they’ll let me know when and where I have to go to get ready.
You called out Nonito Donaire in the ring on HBO, do you still want that fight?
I only want to fight the best, that includes Guillermo Rigondeaux and Nonito Donaire, but I got confused as Donaire fights in the division above me right now. He’s a great champion, but in the near future I will step up to featherweight to fight the best. First I want to make a lot of defences of my world title.
Were you surprised that Abner Mares recently lost via knockout in just one round?
I was surprised but that’s boxing for you, it can all end with one punch, but he will get up from this defeat and learn from it and he’ll be the great champion that he was before. He was in front of a fighter that can punch hard and those things can happen.Tags: Kiko Martinez