Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Frampton Comes Alive with ninth-round TKO over Kiko Martinez

Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton won European Jr. Featherweight crown in his hometown of Belfast on Feb. 9 with a sensational ninth-round TKO over former champion Kiko Martinez of Spain. The 25-year-old challenger stopped the 26-year-old Martinez with one tremendous punch to send the crowd at the Odyssey Arena into a frenzy. It was the first time Martinez has been stopped and his first defeat in the past three years.

Frampton was ready for Martinez since he stepped up in class last September when he stopped former two-time world champion Steve Molitor of Canada in the sixth round. Molitor was a world-class fighter and this gave Frampton a lot of confidence heading into the bout with Martinez. With the win, he raised his unbeaten record to 16-0 with 11 Kos and has launched himself into a top contender in boxing’s 122 lb. weight division.

He’ll face a tough task though if he hopes to win a world title in the division since the current champions are Abner Mares, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Nonito Donaire. With just 16 fights under his belt, Frampton still needs to take on some more top contenders before entering the ring against any of these three titleholders. Frampton took a step in the right direction with the TKO over Martinez, but he has to prove he can beat top boxers on a consistent basis.

Frampton started well against Martinez, but the Spaniard started to come on in the middle rounds and took control from round six to eight. Frampton stuck to his game plan though and surprised Martinez at the 2:46 mark of the ninth round when he exploded on him with a fast combination. A beautiful right cross to the head sent his opponent reeling to the canvas as Martinez was still coming forward and pressing the action.

Martinez managed to get up just before the count reached 10, but he was on very wobbly legs and the referee halted the contest. His record dropped to 27-4 with 19 Kos with the loss.  He’s a good boxer though and should be able to rebound as he’s just 26 years old.

After the bout Frampton said his goal is to become a world champion and Martinez was his toughest opponent up to now. He said he stood up to the former champion’s best shots to prove he has a solid chin and hopes to earn a title shot soon. However, he may end up meeting Scott Quigg of England first before any of the current world champions give him an opportunity at a belt.

On the under card of the Frampton vs Martinez bout, English-born Irishman Andy Lee had to go the whole 10 rounds to beat Anthony Fitzgerald of Ireland. Lee was fighting for the first time with trainer Adam Booth after formerly fighting out of the famous Kronk Gym in Detroit with the late Manny Steward. The 28-year-old raised his record to 29-2 with 20 Kos while the 27-year-old Fitzgerald falls to 13-4 with 1 Ko. The score of the 10-round bout was 98-94.

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