Josh WarringtonBoxing MatchesVS
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Five years on from their first meeting, Kiko Martinez and Josh Warrington go to war once more with the Spaniard defending his IBF World Featherweight title in Leeds.
Martinez will have happy memories of his last trip to England last year, as he brutally knocked out Kid Galahad in Sheffield to become a two-weight world champion.
It was a sensational win for the 36-year-old, who showed that there’s plenty of fight left in him and he certainly continues to carry power to end a fight in a flash.
For Warrington, he’ll be relishing the opportunity to fight in front of his raucous home supporters again, and after a hugely frustrating and difficult 12 months, he’ll be desperate to become a world champion once again.
With a record of 43-10-2, and with 30 of those wins coming by way of knockout, there should be no underestimating of Martinez in this fight from the Warrington camp.
The current champion will be desperate to hold on to his belt, and he’ll no doubt be highly motivated by the opportunity to silence a lively Leeds faithful with what would be another stunning win on his record.
However, Warrington is a seasoned fighter and a much-improved one compared to the first time they met. At 30-1-1 (7 KOs), he’s faced many difficult assignments and come through, while he’ll have learnt a lot from his defeat Mauricio Lara too.
In some ways, this fight mirrors that one given the potential for an ‘upset’ and the threat that Martinez carries with his power, but Warrington’s energy, stamina and movement around the ring should help him successfully slow Martinez down and eventually prevail.
That was on display in 2017 when these two faced off in the ring, with Warrington coming out on top via a split decision that night.
John Warrington is 1/4 (bet365) to beat Kiko Martinez as well with most major betting sites.
Kiko Martinez’s career has been some story, and he’ll be looking to write another memorable chapter this weekend.
He arrives in Leeds with three wins in his last five fights, stopping two of his opponents and going the distance in the other.
In his last outing, he put an end to his bout with Kid Galahad in the sixth round with a brutal stoppage, prevailing as a big underdog and becoming IBF featherweight world champion.
However, perhaps his recent defeat against Zelfa Barrett in February 2021 will be one that Warrington studies as he puts together a strategy to get the better of his old foe.
Martinez boasts a 70% knockout percentage over Warrington’s 23%, while he has more experience having had 23 more fights and 84 more professional rounds.
With his age and form in mind, it seems most probable that if he does emerge victorious on Saturday, it comes via a stoppage with his heavy hands denting Warrington’s defences in the first half of the fight.
Josh Warrington has also won three of his last five fights, stopping one of his opponents while winning on points in the other two.
However, he’s had a frustrating tussle with Mauricio Lara over the last 12 months, as after suffering a loss via TKO in their first encounter in a major shock, their second was adjudged to be a technical draw after he suffered a nasty early cut.
Wins over Sofiane Takoucht, Kid Galahad and Carl Frampton preceded that, and so he’ll be looking to get that momentum in his career back by grabbing the world title off Martinez and going into bigger fights in the coming years.
With his low knockout percentage, Warrington’s best bet here is to outpoint Martinez and use his superior energy and stamina to outbox his rival and steer clear of the danger of being caught by a big shot.
If he can successfully do that through the first six rounds, it becomes more likely that he’ll box his way victory and avoid getting drawn into a scrap in the trenches.
Warrington beat Martinez in 2017 via split decision, and so this is an opportunity for the Spaniard to exact revenge.
The reigning champion has been more active in recent years, stepping in the right every six months, while he has gotten more rounds under his belt than Warrington in that time too.
There is no doubt that his experience will be crucial in this fight, as physically, albeit he carries a punch to end this fight at any moment, Warrington is superior in terms of his work-rate and stamina.
However, as the great Mike Tyson quote goes; ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,’ and Warrington will certainly know about it if he gets caught in the early exchanges.
The First Direct Arena holds a maximum capacity of 13,781, and it will be some way towards a full house with Warrington fighting in front of his home crowd in Leeds.
As we’ve seen over the years, the atmosphere he generates in that arena is arguably one of the liveliest, and while it won’t phase someone like Martinez who’s seen it all over his career, it’s more about what it does to boost Warrington’s performance as he will thrive off it.
Will he be able to produce a controlled performance and box his way to victory? Or will he be drawn into a slug-fest with an expectant home crowd cheering him on? If he boxes smart, they’ll all go home happy.
If Martinez lands on Warrington flush, it could be lights out for the challenger.
The Spaniard’s best chance arguably comes in the first phase of the fight, as the longer it goes on, the more we’d expect Warrington to start building an advantage on the scorecards.
If he can work to the body and slow him down, catch him with some big shots, there is every chance of the title going back to Spain. However, Warrington’s sustained pace, stamina and work-rate should be too much for Martinez over the course of 12 gruelling rounds.