By Steve Wellings
Barry McGuigan has paid tribute to the bravery and toughness of Kiko Martinez. The Spaniard willingly travelled to Belfast to face IBF title challenger Carl Frampton on September 6 but left the isle without his coveted strap. Following 12 hard rounds of action Frampton quite literally boxed rings around his demoralised foe but Barry was full of praise for the ex-champion.
“Kiko was phenomenally brave and his face is twice the size it normally is,” he said post-fight.
“His head movement was better but he was dropped in the fifth round. Kiko Martinez is every bit as tough, if not tougher, than Leo Santa Cruz. He’s a heavier puncher too, he’s relentless, like perpetual motion. It was a different Kiko, his head was almost parallel with the floor and he was hard to hit on the chin.”
An elated McGuigan went on to thank IBF supervisor Lindsay Tucker and referee Steve Gray for their respective roles in the big fight, staged at what he described as “an iconic venue.” Even though Barry has been involved in huge events both as a fighter and promoter he sees no parallels to the ‘Titanic Showdown’ that saw some 16,000 fight fans descend on Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.
“Tonight was different because there were so many people involved with this. We took such risks to get this fight here, financially and emotionally, but it’s just great. He’s an exceptional kid. I want to thank my sons Blaine, Jake and particularly Shane who’s done the one-to-one stuff with Carl for the last three or four years.
“You can see the fighter that he [Frampton] is. We believe that we are just at the bottom of the ladder now. You have to win a world title before you get real traction in your career. We had to do it the hard way. We paid a lot of money to get Kiko here and took a lot of chances,” said McGuigan.
Steve Wellings writes the yearly Irish Boxing Review book.