By Mesuli Zifo
IBF junior featherweight mandatory and South African Jeffrey Mathebula has warned newly-crowned IBF champion Kiko Martinez to forget about dreaming of facing fighters such as Guillermo Rigondeaux until he has fulfilled his mandatory to him.
Martinez caused a major upset when he dethroned previously unbeaten Colombian Jhonatan Romero via a sixth round stoppage in Atlantic City, New Jersey, US a fortnight ago.
The Spaniard jumped into the title mix even though it was Mathebula who was supposed to get the title shot as he had earned the mandatory position by beating compatriot Takalani Ndlovu this past March.
However due to the cordial relationship between Martinez and Mathebula’s camps, the Spaniard was allowed to take on Romero first in a voluntary defence option.
“I am friends with Martinez’s promoter Sampson Lewkowicz so we had no problem stepping aside to let him fight Romero first,” Mathebula’s promoter Branco Milenkovic said.
Ironically Milenkovic brought Martinez to South Africa to face Ndlovu in a title eliminator back in September 2009 and the Spaniard lost a lopsided verdict.
“We worked with Martinez before so we knew his strength going to the Romero fight,” Milenkovic said.
“We had no doubt that he would be too strong for Romero hence we agreed to step aside.”
After Martinez’s victory, the IBF sent both camps letters ordering them to begin negotiations which should be concluded in 30 days failing which the promotional rights would go to purse bids.
However Milenkovic is confident that a deal will be reached with the Martinez camp that will be beneficial to both fighters.
Lewkowicz has enjoyed a good working relations with the SA based Serbian, representing him in numerous purse bids ceremonies involving his other fighters in US.
Mathebula who dropped a points decision to Noni Donaire when he fought with a broken his jaw in July 2012 is looking to get back to world title mix and views the IBF title held by Martinez as the platform to achieve that goal.
It was the very same IBF crown that helped him land the Donaire fight and with new kids in the division such as newly crowned WBC king Leo Santa Cruz and unified WBO/WBA king Rigondeaux he feels he can rumble into another mega bout again.