A MEETING between Kid Galahad and Kiko Martínez would have been a tantalising prospect had it taken place between 2011 and 2014, but, in truth, won’t garner anywhere the same level of interest when the pair finally get together this Saturday (November 13) in Sheffield.
The fight, this 2021 version of it, is being sold as a ‘world title’ fight (with Galahad’s IBF featherweight belt on the line), yet one can’t ignore the irony that back when the fight would have mattered, and back when it would have been far more competitive, Martínez was merely a European champion at super-bantamweight and Galahad was on the rise in the same division.
Unable to turn back time, we must accept what we have and, alas, what we have this Saturday is a fight between a belt-holder full of momentum, coming off arguably the best performance of his career, and a 35-year-old who is 3-2 in his last five fights. Hardly the ingredients for an upset, or even a close encounter; all we can do is hope Martínez’s aggressive style, coupled with knowing this is surely his last chance, causes Galahad problems and shortens the disparity between them.
Challenging any hope of that is the fact that Martínez, arguably at his best when giving Carl Frampton all he could handle in 2013 and 2014, is nothing like the Kiko Martínez of old. He is over a decade removed from winning the European super-bantamweight title and, worse, we are now six years on from the night he folded inside a couple of rounds against Scott Quigg in Manchester. That night he looked shop-worn, out of sorts, there for the taking. That night he appeared to be edging closer and closer to the exit door.
And yet, here he is again, rebooted, recycled, and delivered another opportunity due to his name still carrying weight rather than any recent achievement. Earlier this year, in fact, the extent of Martínez’s fall from grace seemed apparent during the 12 rounds he shared with another Englishman, Zelfa Barrett, at Wembley. In the 10th defeat of his pro career, Martínez, 42-10-2 (29), did much better than two ridiculous scorecards suggested, but was still off the pace by his usual standards – that is, the Martínez of old – and gave no indication that title fights were in his future.
Then again, sometimes, in boxing, it is more beneficial for a fighter to lose than it is to win, especially if their ‘name’ has already been established over the course of previous fights. In the case of Martínez, this theory would not only explain why he has landed this fight against Galahad on Saturday but it could also explain why, at 35, he keeps persevering and will, depending on Saturday’s result, likely keep chugging along in his own inimitable way.
For No.3-ranked Galahad, if it were possible to design an ideal opponent, it would probably end up looking something like Kiko Martínez at 35. Threat level reduced, thanks to years of wear and tear, it will be assumed that the Spaniard will steam forward in straight lines, giving it his all as ever, and will then ultimately end up in the same predicament as Galahad’s previous opponent, Jazza Dickens, in May. Martínez’s bravery could help him hear the final bell, but if Galahad, 28-1 (17), really intends on giving this fight some life and a point, he will do all he can to ensure he becomes the fifth fighter to stop Martínez inside schedule. The latter outcome seems the most likely.
Featuring on the Sheffield undercard is a first defence of the European cruiserweight title for Bournemouth’s Chris Billam-Smith, 13-1 (10), who won the belt by outpointing Tommy McCarthy.
In what represents another strange fight, on paper, 31-year-old Billam-Smith will defend against Frenchman Dylan Bregeon, a 27-year-old yet to really make his mark at this level.
His biggest fight to date arrived earlier this year against Fabio Turchi in Italy and ended in defeat. Since then, Bregeon, 11-1-1 (3), hasn’t fought anyone else – which makes you wonder how he has landed a European title shot – and even before fighting Turchi (for a minor European title) he had fought hardly anyone of note.
As for Billam-Smith, the danger this weekend has less to do with his opponent and more to do with the possibility he will overlook him. Billam-Smith, after all, is a man accustomed to being involved in tough, competitive fights and seems to find strength in being doubted or feeling everything is at stake.
Here, very few will doubt him. Even fewer will expect Dylan Bregeon to last 12 rounds.
Also returning this weekend in Sheffield is Yorkshire’s Terri Harper, 11-0-1 (6), who boxes American Alycia Baumgardner, 10-1 (6), over 10 rounds at super-featherweight.
Much to her frustration, it has been a year since Harper last saw any action, owing to a broken hand she suffered en route to a ninth-round victory over Katharina Thanderz last November. She will be keen to make up for lost time against Baumgardner and will be just as keen to get on the board in 2021, having fought three times – including that 10-round epic against Natasha Jonas – in 2020.
Her opponent, Baumgardner, has also had her issues with inactivity. She didn’t fight at all in 2020 and had almost two years out before beating Vanessa Bradford back in August. Known as “The Bomb”, she has nevertheless stopped two of her last four opponents inside one round and, with six knockouts in her 10 career wins, all secured inside the first round, appears to possess fight-ending power. She’s yet to take part in anything beyond an eight-rounder, however, and is rightly a big underdog here. Expect Harper, presuming she’s back to full fitness, to triumph in the second half.
The best bout on the card might turn out to be the 10-rounder between Doncaster’s James Flint, 9-0-1 (2), and Wakefield southpaw, Dom Hunt, 7-0 (1), for the vacant Central Area super-lightweight title.
The Verdict A deserved homecoming for Galahad that he will surely win with room to spare.