By Barry Holbrook: Josh Warrington (31-1-1, 8 KOs) overwhelmed IBF featherweight champion Kiko Martinez (43-11-2, 30 KOs) in stopping him in the seventh round on Saturday night in their rematch at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England.
Warrington unloaded on the bloody & battered 36-year-old Kiko in the seventh, resulting in the referee Marcus McDonnell stepping in to halt the fight. The time of the stoppage was at 2:12 of the seventh.
In the first round, Warrington dropped Martinez with a left to the head, and cut him over his left eye. Martinez suffered a cut over his right eye in the fourth and then cut on his forehead in the sixth round from a clash of heads.
Kiko looked too slow and one-paced tonight and was getting worked over by the flurries from Warrington. Other than a hard left hand that he seemed to stun Warrington with in the second, he was overmatched.
- Ebanie Bridges (8-1, 3 KOs) defeated IBF World female bantamweight champion Maria Cecilia Roman (16-6-1) by a 10 round unanimous decision. The scores were 97-93, 97-93, and 100-91.
- Maxi Hughes (25-5-2, 5 KOs0 successfully defended his IBO lightweight title with a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision win over Ryan Walsh (27-4-2, 12 KOs). The 35-year-old Walsh was cut on his forehead in the eighth and over his left eye. The scores were 120-108, 119-109, and 118-110.
- Undefeated light-welterweight prospect Dalton Smith (10-0, 8 KOs) blasted out Ray Moylette (12-2, 5 KOs) by a 10th round knockout to win the vacant WBC International silver 140-lb title. Smith knocked Moylette down twice in the tenth round. After the second knockdown, Moylette’s corner threw in the towel. The time of the stoppage was at the 0:49 mark.
- Female featherweight prospect Skye Nicholson (2-0) put on a masterclass performance in defeating Bec Connolly (3-12) by a six-round points decision. The score was 60-54. The 26-year-old Australian Skye showed excellent movement to land, and avoid getting countered by the slower Connolly.
Tonight, Josh Warrington will be back at home in Leeds to challenge Martinez for his IBF 126-kb title, and we can only hope that if the contest does go the 12 round distance, we don’t see another controversial outcome.
Martinez is fresh off his upset sixth-round knockout win over IBF featherweight champion Kid Galahad last November in Sheffield, England.
For his part, Warrington recently fought to a disappointing two-round technical draw against his former conqueror Mauricio Lara last September in Leeds, a fight which ended after the Mexican warrior was badly cut from a clash of heads.
Some boxing fans believed Warrington intentionally rammed heads with Lara to get out of the fight to keep from getting knocked out again by him.
Martinez & Warrington risking everything
“Rematches are always exciting. Generally, you get a rematch because the first fight was so good. This rematch is totally different,” said Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn.
“This rematch comes five years after the first one. This time for a world title [IBF featherweight belt]. This rematch comes unexpectedly, this rematch comes with everything on the line.
“Kiko Martinez vs. Kid Galahad was one of the most remarkable turnarounds in a fight. Kiko Martinez didn’t win one round. We represent Kid Galahad, and we were devastated for him. We want Josh Warrington to win so badly on Saturday.
“We also love Kiko Martinez. How can you not love Kiko Martinez? He’s actually a guy earlier in his career who probably lacked a little discipline, but the discipline is instilled in the backend of his career as given in this Indian summer,” said Hearn.
“When I go into a fight of this magnitude, the only thing I think about is my family, that they can have a good life and not want for anything. I want them to feel proud of the work I do each day,” said Kiko Martinez.
“The feelings and emotions going into fight night and what comes after are fear, adrenaline, nerves, anxiety rolling through your blood,” said Warrington. “The next day is pandemonium and the triumph of victory brings an eye like never before.
“It’s a feeling that only lasts a few days before you’re back in the gym, but it’s a special feeling. I’ve only experienced it twice. The first time was a knockout loss [to Mauricio Lara], and the second time was a draw. I try not to dwell on them too much,” said Warrington.
“The Mauricio Lara fight was potentially career-ending to come back and accept that rematch at Headingley, showed so much heart [by Warrington].
“Obviously, it went no one’s way at Headingley, but to get this opportunity to become a two-time in his city, all the dreams that we had when he came back to us at Matchroom, they all sit right there in his hands if he can win on Saturday,” Hearn said of Warrington.
Does Warrington have anything left?
“There are certainly a few more chapters to be written in the Josh Warrington story. I’m reaching my peak years now. That’s showing in the gym and that’s showing in my training,” said Warrington.
“My mind is stronger than it ever has been. I’ve come through setbacks, and I’ve learned from them. I’ve learned as a fighter. There’s still life in the old dog,” said Warrington.
“There are still two more fights to go in the Kiko Martinez story,” said Kiko. “I need to be a unified world champion [at 126]. I’m keeping my belt, and I’m willing to give everything in the ring.
“I’ll never give up and I’ll pay whatever price is required to remain as world champion,” said Martinez.
“Fight one between these two was at an electric pace,” said Hearn of Kiko and Warrington. “This one is going to be even more rampant with two guys that are desperate to win, two guys that need to win,” Hearn said.
“It’s about being back on top, getting that pole position back, being world champion again for me,” said Warrington about the importance of his fight tonight against IBF featherweight champion Kiko.
“Followers who will back me and support me for my family and my own legacy is massive in what’s riding,” Warrington said.
Kiko predicting KO
“My final prediction is a win by KO,” said Martinez about his prediction tonight in his long-awaited rematch with Josh.
“I’ve visualized this constantly throughout my camp, at night, in the mountains, on the bag, in sparring, at every moment the vision has been to knock out Josh Warrington,” said Martinez.
“My final message to Kiko is Kiko, thank you for the opportunity. There’s one that you will regret. I’m the new [IBF featherweight champion,” said Warrington.
“My final message to Josh Warrington is don’t make excuses after the fight,” said Martinez. “Don’t say it was a lucky punch or it was the weight.
“He’s had many weeks to prepare, so let him be honest after I win the fight,” said Kiko.
“I think this is the end for both fighters if they lose on Saturday night,” said Hearn about Warrington and Martinez. “Each one of them has been tremendous world champions.
“Each one of them has only wanted to be in the sport with a belt around their waist. This is an absolute must-win for Josh Warrington and Kiko Martinez,” said Eddie Hearn.