FORMER IBF world super-bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez will challenge unbeaten Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA world featherweight title in California on Saturday night.
Across the pond, two of his former conquerors – Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg – will finally meet in Manchester. Frampton stopped the Spaniard in nine before outpointing him over 12 in the rematch, while Quigg demolished him inside two rounds last year in what was Martinez’s final fight at 122lbs.
The 29-year-old was an unusual opponent for Santa Cruz to select, given that Kiko’s three wins at featherweight have been against unheralded opposition. Regardless, Martinez is ready to pull off the upset.
You’ve mentioned being surprised about getting a fight with Santa Cruz – how did it come about?
I am in the best promoter company in the world. Maravillabox is amazing, they are a breath of fresh air in Spanish boxing and are always doing a great job with all their fighters. Simply, they called me and asked me: Do you want to fight for the featherweight title? I said: Ha ha ha, of course!
Some observers have written you off in this fight after your losses to Frampton and Quigg – how do you react to those opinions?
I don’t like to give excuses for a defeat, but Quigg had his lucky night against me. In my opinion Frampton is more skilled than him and hit harder. I am always fighting the best opposition and that experience will help me for this fight against Leo.
You’re operating at featherweight now – how do you feel at the weight? Is this where you’ll fight for the foreseeable future?
I think that I will feel stronger than before, because I can eat more food and train harder. Leo is not a natural featherweight either, he started his career in the bantamweight division. If I win I don’t know, but maybe I will return to super-bantamweight.
A win over Santa Cruz would throw you right back into the mix – what type of fights would you be looking for?
All my life I was fighting the best opponents, and once again, If I win against Santa Cruz I want to fight against another champion or – why not? – a third fight against Frampton.
What would a win over Santa Cruz mean for you?
A dream. I was world champion, but a victory over an American superstar will be amazing.