Carl Frampton: I'll knock Kiko Martinez out again
Carl Frampton believes he is one wicked right hand away from realising a lifetime dream when he clashes with IBF World super-bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez on September 6.
The only question left hanging in the air following the announcement of his re-match with Martinez is where the blockbuster battle – expected to attract a crowd of 20-25,000 – will be staged?
Even though the venue has yet to be revealed, it is certain that Belfast will be rocking once more as the hometown hero aims for a repeat of his sensational ninth-round knockout win over Martinez last February to claim his European title.
"I'm so excited at this big fight and big opportunity, to win a world title against somebody I've already beaten," said Frampton (below).
"I'm not taking Kiko lightly and I'm not saying it's going to be an easy fight. I think it will be tough but I'm an improved fighter and I think the result will be the same."
Carl admits that pressure comes along with the huge opportunity to claim the IBF belt.
Just because the fight is in Belfast and against an opponent he has already defeated, it is not a forgone conclusion. Especially whenever the defending champion has 23 knockouts on his ledger.
"Sometimes people are expecting me to win a world title, they think it's automatically going to happen but it's not that simple," he explained.
"Even though I know I can win the world title, it doesn't mean that I'm going to train any less. There is an expectation on me but they know their boxing up here and all over Ireland, they know a good boxer when they see one.
"I don't want to let myself down or the people who have been saying big things about me down either."
After The Jackal knocked out Mexico's Hugo Cazares in an April 4 WBC eliminator, it appeared that he would be mixing with reigning champion Leo Santa Cruz.
Despite some positive noises from Santa Cruz and his trainer, it soon became clear that his promotional team at Golden Boy held little interest in the Frampton fight.
Barry McGuigan and co quickly turned their attention back to 28-year-old Martinez and contacted his advisor Sampson Lewkowicz. Both parties reached an agreement and the Spaniard immediately made it clear that he was relishing a return to Belfast.
"You have to give Kiko credit because he's coming over here," continued Carl.
"Santa Cruz seemed as keen as mustard before the Cazares fight and then after that it was a just radio silence from him and Golden Boy.
"They didn't want to know and I don't want to be waiting around. I am now fighting for a legitimate world title. Once that's done and you're the champion, in the driving seat, you can start making a few demands yourself. I just wanted any world title."
One thing Frampton won't be lacking on fight night is in the fitness department.
He enters training camps in good condition and is not the type of fighter to indulge in between bouts.
Trainer Shane McGuigan has been taking his charge on the pads and expressed surprise at the shape the 27-year-old is in already. He will need every ounce of fitness required to repel Martinez.
"There were mistakes I made in the first fight and things I did wrong and I'll watch the footage to see exactly what," added Frampton.
"Even though Kiko has improved he will still box in the same style; he'll come forward and be aggressive. Potentially he could be hesitant to meet me head on and in our last fight he was super-aggressive and relentless.
"In the fights he's won recently against Mathebula and (Hasegawa) he's been coming forward but not as ferociously as when he fought me so maybe there are doubts in his mind. Whatever happens and whatever he brings I'll be ready for it.
"Kiko will be coming here to win. He is looking for redemption because he got embarrassed last time with all his talk before the fight – what he was going to do to me and that I couldn't knock his nephew out. I out-boxed him, out-fought him and then knocked him out. It's going to be a tough fight but I'm expecting the same result."
A bit of previous business
When Carl Frampton enters the ring on September 6, he will do so in the knowledge that not only has he fought a reigning world champion but he has emphatically knocked one out.
Opponent Kiko Martinez travelled to Belfast on February 9, 2013 to defend his European title in a hostile Odyssey Arena. Carl was riding high off the back of a knockout win over former world champion Steve Molitor while Martinez was still rebuilding his career after defeats to Rendall Munroe and Takalani Ndlovu.
Martinez arrived in Belfast representing a huge test for Frampton, given the Spaniard's lauded punching power. Back in 2007, 'La Sensacion' had stunned Dublin with a first-round blitz of local hero Bernard Dunne.
The Frampton bout was scheduled twice before it happened but Kiko withdrew on each occasion. Therefore, when the fight eventually came around, it was dubbed 'Unfinished Business' by promoters Matchroom.
'The Jackal' took possession of Martinez's EBU title that night. Following some tentative early rounds the visitor began marching forward, attempting to unnerve his young challenger but was met with sharp combinations from Frampton. The champion was arguably enjoying a decent spell in the fight when, in the ninth round, he walked onto a perfectly-timed right hand and Martinez was counted out at 2:46 of the session.
Carl was ahead on all three of the official scorecards at the point of the stoppage with totals of 78-74 (twice) and 77-75. Frampton made a huge statement as this was the first time Kiko had been knocked out as a professional.
All of the post-fight talk centred around a possible fight with domestic rival Scott Quigg but Frampton went on to fight Jeremy Parodi. Two fights after the defeat, Martinez received a surprise world title opportunity and won the IBF belt that he will now defend on September 6 in Belfast.