This weekend Josh Warrington gets the opportunity to make history. The 32Red ambassador will become a two time champion of the world if he can snatch the IBF featherweight title from his old rival, Kiko Martinez. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
Five years ago, Warrington beat Martinez in the very same ring but the stakes will be much higher at a hostile FD Arena in Leeds on Saturday night. The remarkable little Spaniard has rebounded time and time again throughout his career and his stunning knockout of Kid Galahad last November was the perfect reminder of just how dangerous he still is.
After a terrible year, Warrington has the chance to jump right back into the mix for unification fights and the big American events he has always craved. To do that, he will have to get past one of the toughest men in the 126lb division and he knows it isn’t going to be easy.
“I’ve said it’s a crazy sport a few times!”
“Kiko Martinez, my old foe. I’ve said it’s a crazy sport a few times in interviews. I boxed Kiko five years ago and he was supposedly finished back then. Now he’s a world champion and holds a belt I vacated.
“This fight has so many different strings and things attached to it. Kiko was going to be a sparring partner before my rematch with Mauricio Lara. He was supposed to be sitting at my kitchen table with me and then sparring afterwards. Instead, here we are. We’re about to fight for the second time.
“I kept talking before the Lee Selby fight about how it was destined to be. This feels like it’s an extra chapter that’s been made. I was meant to go through the two fights against Mauricio Lara and end up here. I had a loss, a draw and here I am again in a world title fight.
“Kiko’s had some fantastic wins. Since we boxed he fought against Gary Russell Jnr and got stopped on a cut and he boxed Zelfa Barret and he and a lot of other people will believe that he won but now he’s a world champion. He was finished. He was finished when I boxed him first time apparently. I remember folk and boxing journalists saying, ‘Yeah, it’ll be a test for Warrington but it’s an ageing Kiko who’s boxed the likes of Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg and they’ve already made meals of him.’
“Kiko Martinez is gonna bring it”
“It just goes to show that people peak at different points in their careers. There’s still life in the old dog. Timing goes, speed goes, your reactions go but the old saying is that the last thing you lose is your power. He showed that in the last fight he had against Kid Galahad.
“I do think that Kiko will be expecting to fight the same Josh Warrington he did five years ago. A little bit of me thinks that he believes he’s just gonna come forward again like he did last time and I’ll be on my bike. He could bring something else but this is a Kiko Martinez who’s 60 fights deep. He’s not gonna come out and start jumping around the ring like Sunny Edwards for example. He’s gonna bring it.
“He probably thinks I’m more susceptible having been knocked out and put on the canvas for the first time. He probably think I’ll get drawn into a fight like I did with Carl over the first two rounds. I think he thinks he’s fighting the Warrington of old but this is a Warrington who’s matured mentally and physically. I’m hitting PB’s in everything I’m doing in training. I’m experienced in fighting in front of big audiences and big crowds and I’m bang at it these days. And I’m feeling good. He’s in for a shock.
“It’s gonna be a cauldron”
“This will be the first time in eleven fights at the First Direct Arena that I’ll be walking to the ring first and being announced first. I’ve always been the champion or the home fighter. It’s gonna be a bit weird standing there in the ring watching the opponent walk out but I had that experience when I boxed Lee Selby. We’ve been over this ground before. As always, it’s gonna be absolutely hostile.
“Block 105. I did it for the Lee Selby fight but that was in a different environment. At the arena it’s always been the case that your man is stood in the corner waiting for you and they have to look right at that block 105 like a lamb to the slaughter. This time around he’s got the option to drag it out as long as he wants. It’s gonna be a cauldron.
“I think over the pandemic the support I’ve had has been shown massively. I came off a knockout loss to Mauricio Lara and in the rematch I had 18,000 at Headingley Stadium. People turned out in their numbers and when the tickets went on sale for this one I think 6,000 went on the first day. I know a lot of people want to witness history and see something special. They’re right behind me and I’ve got to deliver for them.”