Belfast’s Carl Frampton is the new European super-bantamweight champion after an enthralling nine-round toe-to-toe battle with rugged Spaniard Kiko Martinez at the Odyssey Arena.
‘The Jackal’ made a great start, banking the first round as Martinez laboured through the first three minutes, until the champion upped his pace and pressure in the second to get right back into the fight.
Frampton began boxing on the back-foot, using his countering skills to full affect as both fighters had their moments in the next few rounds. 25 year-old Frampton, who continually dropped his guard when backpedalling, was caught twice in the fourth, one of which dipped his legs – although he managed to fire back to cut Martinez and then wobble him with a left hook as they traded in the round.
The home fighter then took control of the fight through the next three rounds as he picked off the champion whilst keeping out of danger, worsening the cut under Martinez’s left eye by the end of the seventh.
Martinez, 26 came back in the eighth, but looked to be tiring in the ninth and after backing off to avoid a shot, Frampton unleashed a huge right hand and sent ‘La Sensation’ to the canvas for the first time.
Referee Anssi Perajoki reached eight as Martinez got to his feet, but after rocking back onto the ropes, the official called a halt to the fight crowning Frampton the new champion of Europe at 122lbs.
Rival Scott Quigg was ringside to witness Martinez being stopped for the first time in 31 outings and could be in for a high-profile clash with Frampton in the near future after the new title holder improved to 16-0 with his 11th stoppage. WBN Scorecard.
In chief support, Lee Selby looked a dominant force at featherweight once again as he totally out powered a spirited challenger in Martin Lindsay to retain his British and Commonwealth titles.
Looking huge in comparison to Lindsay, Selby started off slowly in the first, but found his range from the second to begin systematically beating down the home fighter until the final bell en route to a wide points victory and a 14th professional win.
Lindsay, 30, looked beaten up from the mid-rounds and no matter what he threw at the 26 year-old champion, could not make a dent as Welshman Selby looked every inch a world title contender at the 126lb limit.
The three judges at ringside carded scores of 118-109, 118-110 and 117-111 as I handed Selby a wider margin of 119-108 for a comprehensive decision. Click here to view the WBN Scorecard.