Carl Frampton made good on his promise to claim the IBF Super Bantamweight title in Belfast with a dominant display over Kiko Martinez at a buoyant Titanic outdoor stadium, in what he described as ‘The performance of my life.’
The favourite, who had the Spaniard on the floor in the fifth, put on an imperious show of counter punching and toe to toe boxing, that proved his world class credentials.
Martinez opened slowly to the third defence of his title and even the 16,000 crowd could sense the nerves from which he seemed to suffer. His standard tactic of fighting from the centre of the ring with front footed aggression, had to wait momentarily as the two fighters meet one another’s re-acquaintance tentatively. The second round began a battle that hinted toward a physically bruising night for both men. Martinez drew success with a solid headshot, Frampton stood to comeback with a strong left hand and straight right. For the first time in the contest the champion’s head was made to wobble in early third round exchanges but the dropping of Frampton’s guard made him susceptible to quick combinations.
A cut over Martinez left eye emerged before he fell victim to a swift left cross and right hook that left him on the floor – the venom in each hand, a fitting reaction from Frampton – after being illegally hit when on the canvas a minute before.
Expectant supporters saw ‘The Jackal’ continue to expose his prey with slick left jabs. Having to travel endlessly in search of success was beginning to tell on Martinez, who couldn’t be helped by a series of hardy scuffles. Fighting on the inside has become something of a delicacy for the 28 year old but he was denied the tear up he so clearly craved for long periods of the bout. Instead, with the champion becoming desperate, it was Frampton who controlled these bursts. He was then left to dance away from rough punches and set about ending the fight with a well timed deluge of hits against the ropes. Martinez almost caved to the relentless action in front of him. Ever the warrior, he refused to be knocked out.
Proceedings were brought to a close with a unanimous decision (119-108 , 118-111) for a deserving winner. Just as Belfast had been expecting, its champion arrived.
Frampton now intends on holding on to his prize for many years to come and was clearly overcome by the victory.
“Thanks to everyone for coming out. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. My head is still a bit sore and my hands are sore. It’s been a long time coming. I’m very proud and happy,” he said.
While confident of beating anyone in the division, Frampton is due to meet mandatory challenger Chris Avalos next time out. His comprehensive performance will not have escaped the attention of Scott Quigg and Leo Santa Cruz either.
Indeed, Barry McQuigan was quick to assess the future standing of his most accomplished fighter. “I think this kid could be the best Irish fighter there has ever been.”
Tim Martin covered Martinez v Frampton 2 fight week for WBN. You can follow Tim on Twitter @Tim_Martin4