Heavy-handed pressure fighter Kiko Martinez will challenge WBC featherweight titleholder Gary Russell Jr. as chief support to Deontay Wilder-Dominic Breazeale at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday.
Martinez, the former IBF junior featherweight titleholder, is optimistic that he can make the most of his unexpected opportunity.
“I am very happy,” Martinez (39-8-2, 28 knockouts) told The Ring through Oscar Zardain. “I want to say thanks to my team Maravillabox Promotions, to my friend Sampson Lewkowicz and to Team Russell for picking me. To fight for the green and gold belt is one of my dreams and I will do my best to win this title.
“I am very happy to fight in New York City, it’s a dream come true. This fight will be my 50th pro fight and NYC is the best place to celebrate that.”
The Spanish veteran is a 12/1 underdog and is aware of the supremely talented champions ability, but he intends to use his power to offset the speed and skills of Russell.
“He is very talented, very fast and intelligent,” Martinez said. “But I improved my defense a lot in the last fights and I think I can hurt him with hard punches. I think that he is not very strong.
“He is a very good champion and I know he is training like hell. This fight will be great, I promise you.”
Russell (29-1, 17 KOs) turned professional in 2009 after a good amateur career. In 2014, he was outpointed by Vasiliy Lomachenko in a bout for the vacant WBO featherweight strap. However, world title glory arrived the following year when the quick-fisted lefty stopped Jhonny Gonzalez for the WBC version.
Since that time Russell has often been criticized for his inactivity, defending the title just three times in a four-year period.
Martinez, while lacking Russell’s talent, has always looked to test himself. The 33-year-old is nearer the end of his career than the beginning but has one last goal he wants to achieve before walking away.
“I want to be remembered as a good champion; humble, a boxer that always made good fights,” he said. “In the last fight I won another European title in a second weight category. I am very happy with this achievement. My goal now is winning a world title in another weight category and be the second Spaniard to do it [after former junior middle and middleweight titleholder Javier Castillejo].”
Martinez is promoted by Maravilla Promotions, headed up by is his longtime friend, former world middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. “Maravilla” thinks his fighter can use his experience to good effect.
“Kiko is a war veteran, he doesn’t need my advice,” said the former boxer-turned promoter. “But I think that he can hurt Russell with his strong punches, especially in the body. Kiko’s fight starts in the second part of the fight, between the sixth and 12th round.”
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