Kiko Martinez is out to make amends after Carl Frampton knockout
Almost from the moment he left the Odyssey Arena in February 2013, Kiko Martinez has had place in his mind for Carl Frampton and the desire to put the record straight comes on Saturday night at the purpose-built arena in Titanic Quarter.
Martinez may have gone on to win the IBF World super-bantamweight title and make two successful defences since that European title defeat but all along he has been haunted by the night Frampton knocked him out.
As he warmed up for a work-out at his gym in Alicante, it seemed the champion was taking to heart the slogan sprawled across the entrance – 'There is no victory without suffering'.
"Immediately after the fight in Belfast, I was back in the gym on the Tuesday. I was hurting mentally and physically but I went to the gym because I was so angry with myself because I had let that happen," said Martinez – who touched down in Belfast yesterday – through interpreter, friend and boxer Ricky Pow.
"I wasn't right mentally for the fight, I didn't have the right training. Before this fight I'm stronger mentally, this time I am stronger. I was so angry after the last fight and I am still angry... I'm mad with myself because I know I can do better and I'm ready this time.
"Ever since I won the title I have wanted Frampton, he has been in my mind.
"I want to make it right, I had a bad night in Belfast and on September 6 I will show it, I will show the world that it was a bad night.
"I think my results speak for themselves after the defeat to Frampton. I have grown as a fighter."
Nevertheless, it was the concussive power of Frampton which ultimately brought an end to an exciting battle in the ninth round and the Belfast man's team are convinced that he has developed greatly since that atmospheric night in the Odyssey – which the Spaniard revealed, for the first time time, did affect him.
"The atmosphere was amazing that night, it was one of a kind and it unnerved me a bit and it was a bit intimidating but it will be different this time.
"I'm not worried about Frampton's power at all... personally I am in a lot better shape now and Frampton should be afraid of my power because of what I have done since.
"If Frampton stands in and has a fight I will stop him but is he willing to come and have a fight?
"Last time he didn't come for one minute to have a fight... he ran the whole fight, he didn't come to fight.
"He didn't hurt me in the fight, the knockout came because of an accumulation of punches in the fight.
"I was tired, I could have went on... there wasn't much time for the round to finish and I think I could have fought on.
"The last time I expected a hard fight and nothing shocked me, I expected him to box the way he did.
"This fight is going to be completely different, I am more up for it, I am in better physical shape as well. I know what to expect, I don't think he will change.
"He says he has improved as a boxer but I can't see how he has improved. I hurt Frampton a lot in the last fight, I hurt him to the head and the body, he was moaning to the referee when I hit him to the body.
"I know that I am going to beat Frampton and I will keep boxing until I feel it is time to give up."
The champion's preparation has included work with World featherweight contender Lee Selby, the slick Welshman who on the same night Frampton defeated Martinez outpointed Belfast's Martin Lindsay.
"Lee Selby was the best preparation out there for Frampton because he's a boxer, he's got massive boxing skills and he's going to be the next World champion to come out of the UK," added Martinez as the sweat dropped from his brow ahead of an intense two-hour session in sweltering heat.
"I had problems leading up to the fight, now I'm 100 per cent focused on the fight mentally and physically.
"I am World champion now and my legacy will be bigger for facing Carl Frampton."
Yesterday Martinez swaggered into Belfast, ready to now back up his words with actions on Saturday night before 16,000 passionate Ulstermen baying for his downfall.
The stage has been set...