NEW YORK – The 10 rounds he just spent in the ring with Teofimo Lopez convinced Sandor Martin that the next southpaw Lopez might fight will tear through him.
The Spanish contender predicted that WBC super lightweight champion Regis Prograis will handle Lopez easily if they eventually fight for Prograis’ 140-pound title. Lopez moved closer to a shot at Prograis’ crown when he edged Martin by split decision in their WBC elimination match Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
“Now Regis Prograis [will] kill him,” Martin told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna following his close loss. “Prograis [will] kill him, 100 percent.”
While also left-handed, Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs) is a much harder puncher than Martin (40-3, 13 KOs). The 33-year-old New Orleans native became the first opponent to knock out Jose Zepeda (36-3, 28 KOs, 2 NC), whom Prograis dropped and stopped in the 11th round to win the then-vacant WBC 140-pound championship November 26 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Prograis must make a mandatory defense of his belt against former WBC/WBO champ Jose Ramirez in his next fight if Prograis cannot secure a title unification bout. Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs), of Avenal, California, is the mandatory challenger for Prograis’ title.
The Prograis-Ramirez winner would be obligated to defend his title against Lopez because Lopez became the WBC’s second mandatory challenger Saturday night. According to the WBC’s rules related to fights for vacant championships, winners must make two mandatory defenses.
The Brooklyn-born Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) is still more likely to pursue the only fighter who has beaten Prograis, Josh Taylor, than a shot at Prograis’ belt if Taylor stays in the junior welterweight division later in 2023. Scotland’s Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) first needs to get past English southpaw Jack Catterall (26-1, 13 KOs) in their 12-round rematch, which will be scheduled soon for a date late in February or early in March at OVO Hydro in Glasgow.
Whereas Prograis is promoted by Probellum, Taylor and Lopez are promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., which would make their fight easier to put together.
Martin, meanwhile, feels that he was “robbed” by the judges Saturday night. The Barcelona-based southpaw contended during his aforementioned interview with Osuna that he easily defeated Lopez in a main event ESPN televised.
“I have the art of boxing, punch and not punch me,” Martin said. “You know? I’m an artist. He’s a showman. I’m a boxer.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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