Kiko Martinez happy to put Carl Frampton on long finger
On December 21, Carl Frampton hopes to find out who he will be fighting for the IBF World super-bantamweight title early in 2014 – but it seems that may not be the case unless South African Jeffrey Mathebula is triumphant.
Former IBF World champion Mathebula travels to Spain to try and regain the belt when he takes on former Frampton victim Kiko Martinez.
It is a fight that has the boxing fraternity divided with some believing Mathebula will have a little too much skill for the Spaniard, while others – including Frampton – feel the champion will hold onto his title.
Should Martinez – knocked out by Frampton in nine rounds at the Odyssey Arena in February – retain his title then the Belfast man could face the possibility of having to wait until September or October for a shot at the IBF world title.
Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, Martinez's business manager Miguel Angel de Pablos said that he expects the Spanish bull to retain his title and then make a voluntary defence before thinking about facing Frampton.
De Pablos said: "We are focused on the Mathebula fight and then Kiko will make a voluntary defence and I would see that happening around June.
"And then we will see who the mandatory challenger is and he will fight the mandatory challenger.
"Kiko wants the fight with Carl Frampton because he wants to avenge the only stoppage defeat of his career.
"The fight with Carl Frampton will not be the voluntary defence.
"Kiko and Frampton will go to purse bids and we will look to bring the fight to Spain."
De Pablos insisted that Martinez has no problem returning to the scene of his only knockout defeat but it seems the Spanish camp are keen to out-bid Cyclone Promotions in order to give their man home advantage.
"Kiko has no problem going back to Belfast but we want to see if Frampton's team are ready to come to Spain," said de Pablos.
"We are not just going to sell our kid, he is the world champion and we want him fighting in Spain.
"Before he was having to travel all the time to the UK but now he is the champion.
"Now he is fighting at a very high level. Kiko will just have two or three fights a year.
"The fight with Frampton would be huge, we know that.
"Kiko is focused on his next fight, he will knock out Mathebula for sure."
There have also been growing rumours that should Martinez retain his title in December, a world title unification fight with Manchester's Scott Quigg could be on the cards.
De Pablos added: "Quigg? That is a huge fight for Kiko.
"It's a very big fight for both boxers and we have a very good relationship with Eddie Hearn so that could happen but I see the really big fight for Kiko being Frampton."
Clearly Martinez, as the champion, feels he can dictate what he does next but should Mathebula win on December 21 then a world title shot for Frampton becomes a real possibility in March.
Mathebula does not have the financial backing that is behind the Spaniard, who is promoted by middleweight star Sergio Martinez and Cyclone Promotions have already stated that a major offer will be on the table to whoever is the champion.
"Mathebula's promoter has already made it clear to me that they are prepared to come to Belfast but we'll see what happens on December 21," said Cyclone Promotions boss Barry McGuigan.
Money talks in boxing and there would arguably be no bigger pay-day available to Mathebula than a trip to Belfast to box in front of the Frampton-maniacs in the Odyssey Arena.
Frampton, who marries long-time sweetheart Christine this Sunday, can only hope that his Christmas kicks off in real style with a victory for Mathebula.
One thing the European champion is sure about is that 2014 will be his year.
"I know that I can beat anybody in the world. I'll be world champion," he said.