Former unified world champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez sees big things for his protégé Jon “JonFer” Fernandez as the undefeated super featherweight prepares for his toughest test to date in O’Shaquie Foster in the headlining bout of ShoBox: The New Generation this Friday, September 21, live on SHOWTIME (9:45 p.m. ET/PT).
Martinez, known for his extensive career and impact inside the ring and now at the helm of Maravillabox Promotions, has managed Fernandez since 2015. Since his pro debut at only 19 years old, Fernandez (16-0, 14 KOs) has climbed the prospect rankings while keeping his unblemished record intact, knocking out 88 percent of his opponents along the way. The 23-year-old Fernandez was named the No. 5 prospect in all of boxing on ESPN’s Top Prospects of 2017 list, and looks poised to challenge for a world title at 130 pounds in the near future.
This Friday’s quadrupleheader features eight prospects boasting a combined record of 81-2-1 and 56 KOs. The telecast opens with James Wilkins (5-0, 5 KOs), who is featured on SHOWTIME’s CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS documentary immediately preceding the ShoBox telecast at 9 p.m. ET/PT, taking on Misael Lopez (8-0, 4 KOs). Also included on the card is a battle between undefeated featherweights Irvin Gonzalez Jr. (10-0, 9 KOs) and Carlos Ramos (9-0, 6 KOs), plus and Brooklyn’s Wesley Ferrer (12-0-1, 7 KOs) colliding with undefeated lightweight Philadelphia prospect Steven Ortiz (8-0, 3 KOs).
This week, the former world champ Martinez spoke to SHOWTIME about what the future might hold for Fernandez and his stablemate, fellow-undefeated prospect Carlos Ramos:
SERGIO “MARAVILLA” MARTINEZ:
How much has Jon progressed since the last time we saw him on SHOWTIME in June 2017?
“It’s been over a year since last time Jon fought in the United States. I’ve seen him mature as a person and as a boxer. He’s been in three very difficult fights, he knocked out a Panamanian Olympian and won the WBC Silver belt. He’s now ranked in the top 10 at super featherweight by the WBC.”
How far away do you believe Jon is from challenging for a world title opportunity?
“With every fight, JonFer is a step closer to an opportunity to showcase his talent on the big stage. I think 2019 will be the year where we see him in a big fight against another top 10 opponent or challenging for a title.”
You have sparred with Jon in the past, how did that go? Do you still train with him?
“I train with JonFer a few days a week. He’s so strong. I think he’s stronger than most 130-pounders, and he can pack a punch. He’s a power puncher.”
What initially drew you to work with Jon in the beginning?
“As soon as I met JonFer, I knew I wanted to work with him. His talent stood up right away. I knew he was a hungry, five-star boxer with world championship fever. The perfect prospect.”
How do you feel about the matchup Jon has on Friday night against O’Shaquie Foster?
“Foster is his toughest rival to date, so naturally I’m a little nervous. But I know JonFer has what it takes to get the win. I have a second fighter on the card, Carlos Ramos. I’m always a little nervous when my boxers fight. It’s normal.”
Irvin Gonzalez is also undefeated, what does Carlos need to do for the victory?
“Carlos Ramos doesn’t have to do anything special to defeat Irvin Gonzalez. He just has to be himself. Ramos knows this is the biggest opportunity he has ever had and that this fight can change his life. That’s the best motivation he can have to bring his A-game to the ring on Friday.”
What are you thoughts on Carlos as a prospect?
“I have high hopes for Carlos. He has a lot of talent and is a southpaw, just like me. He reminds me of myself when I was starting. I believe in his potential.”
Presented by DiBella Entertainment, tickets for the event are priced at $60 for ringside, $40 for floor seats and $30 for general admission and can be purchased online at www.firelakearena.com or at the door on the night of the event.