NEVER underestimate the wily old banger. Kiko Martínez was last week given no chance whatsoever by Boxing News, first in our written preview for his fight with Kid Galahad and then again, by me, on our weekly podcast. But the 35-year-old proved us wrong and likely most of you, too.
In a contest that triggered memories of Dillian Whyte being socked to defeat by an all but washed-up Alexander Povetkin last year, Kiko looked every day of his 17-year career for four and three-quarter rounds until he turned the fight with one hellacious blast in the fifth. Fortunate to be allowed to continue – or not, considering what happened next – Galahad was then knocked cold mere seconds into the sixth. It was the kind of shock that makes boxing such an irresistible spectacle and, rightly or wrongly, turned any grumblings that Martínez had no business being in such a contest into a ludicrous observation.
From the moment his squat, rapid-fire arms exploded onto the scene in 2007 with a chilling one-round stoppage of Bernard Dunne in Dublin, Martínez has been adept at avoiding extinction. Unquestionably nightmarish to fight, and not looking a day over 50, the loveable little Spaniard is something of a cult hero. But does that mean we now turn a blind eye to him being jettisoned into the IBF ratings, at No.15, to get a shot at belt-holder Galahad?
Prior to beating Galahad, one must venture all the way back to 2014, when he beat Hozumi Hasegawa in Japan, to his last victory at world class. Following that triumph, he lost (for the second time) to Carl Frampton, was stopped in two by Scott Quigg, finished inside five by Léo Santa Cruz, beaten over 12 by Josh Warrington, halted in the fifth against Gary Russell Jnr and, albeit contentiously, outpointed by Zelfa Barrett. None of the victories he was posting in-between suggested he could do what he did on Saturday night in Sheffield and most certainly did not merit a spot in any world rankings.
It would all now seem a moot point and, to be honest, makes BN appear like we’re scrambling a little too much to justify why we made such a howler of a prediction in the first place. The losses he suffered in recent years only made his latest victory all the more impressive. Even so, there is surely a lesson in there somewhere.
Be it for us, to not be so dismissive of someone whose ambition has never waned even if his form had, or for Galahad, who oh so briefly lost his composure and paid the price, or for those who made the fight, which, frankly, must have been an expensive exercise designed purely to give the home fighter a workout before making a ‘real’ fight for him next year. Because boxing, and this is why we all love it, always has a habit of surprising us when we least expect it. Well done, Kiko Martínez, for reminding us of that.
- NEXT month, on two separate shows screened on the same night in the UK, fans will have to choose between watching Conor Benn-Chris Algieri on DAZN and Chris Eubank Jnr-Liam Williams on Sky Sports. Clashes have been rare since lockdown, admittedly. Last year, Robert Smith of the BBB of C spoke of his pleasure that promoters seemed to understand that staging big cards on the same night was counterproductive. But as the schedules get clogged up while normality threatens to return, any notion that the promoters are still communicating for the good of the sport appears a falsehood.
Eubank-Williams is the better December 11 main event, but Benn-Algieri has the stronger undercard (at the time of writing) so one could argue there is the potential for channel hopping and/or recording one and watching the other live. But as much as our viewing habits have changed over the years, the thrill of watching sport as it happens remains the same.
It would seem too much to ask of promoters (and TV execs) to get them to communicate when planning these things. I know, because I asked the two promoters involved in the December 2018 clash between Warrington-Frampton and Whyte-Chisora II and their response was not encouraging. In short, clashes were purely down to the logistics of organising events and not due to any rivalries between channels or promoters. So, it is perhaps time for the Board to step in. Boxing does itself no favours by pitching two TV shows against each other. It is surely possible to avoid this by using a simple first come, first served rule for major events.