FORMER IBF super-bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez has sent a warning to Josh Warrington ahead of their May 13 fight at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
The stocky Spaniard travels to Warrington’s hometown in a bid to snatch the local favourite’s top-five featherweight ranking with the WBC.
Warrington is fiercely popular in Leeds and will have thousands of fans roaring him on, but Martinez insists he is not fussed.
“Sincerely, I don’t care. It is something usual in my career, but the pressure is not on me, the pressure is on him,” he told Boxing News.
“This is the most important fight of his career and everybody will be in the arena watching him: his family, his friends, all his people. You can trust me, he is in trouble.”
“The UK is my second home, I feel great there but I have never won a big fight in England. I have won fights in Ireland, USA, Japan or Argentina and I need a win against Warrington. I know that a lot of British fans support me and respect me and this is the best victory for a fighter.”
Kiko has fought on these shores numerous times, most notably against Carl Frampton (twice) and Scott Quigg, losing all three fights.
Those losses came at super-bantamweight and since then, the 31-year-old has moved to featherweight. In February 2016 he was stopped in five rounds by WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz and although he is the underdog against Warrington, he remains adamant he will prevail.
“I have been working very hard for this fight,” he continued. “I respect Josh a lot as a fighter and as a person too, but I will travel to Leeds to win the fight and show to everybody that Kiko is once again on the top of the division.
“He is really a very good fighter, he is strong, he is fast, he has very good footwork and he can throw some good combinations. Definitely he is an important challenge in my career and I know that this fight will be difficult for both. He is a young lion looking for the big titles.”
Warrington is close to a world title shot and also has ambitions of fighting at Elland Road, home of his beloved Leeds United Football Club.
Kiko is aware that a potential chance at world honours is at stake and also feels Warrington will have prepared himself accordingly.
“I know that he is not stupid and he is training 100% focused on me,” he insisted.
“I understand him, I was in his position before. As I said before, he is hungry, he is looking for the big fights, the big money. But I am not finished, I was fighting against Leo Santa Cruz one year ago. Good luck to him, he’ll need it.”