By: Matthew N. Becher
This Saturday, February 27th, Showtime sports will be presenting live, not one but two title fights spanning a distance of over 5,400 miles away from one another.
The first fight will be a unification in the Super Bantamweight division (122lbs) for the IBF and WBA titles. From the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom, two boxers will square off in a highly anticipated showdown that has had boxing fans talking about for the last couple of years.
Carl Frampton (21-0 14KO) is the reigning IBF champion, winning his title in 2014 from former belt holder Kiko Martinez. Frampton will be fighting for the first time in 2016 and is coming off a lack luster performance in July 2015, where he travelled outside his native UK to fight in the USA for the very first time. He squared off against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr., who Frampton dominated by the final bell, but who had knocked down Frampton twice in the opening rounds.
Scott Quigg (31-0-2 23KO) has just been promoted from interim champ to world title holder when the title was stripped from overall #1 bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux. Quigg had a slow 2015, with only one fight in his home country against former champion Kiko Martinez, who he easily knocked out in 2 rounds.
Both of these fighters have been chomping at the bit to get at one another. They are both little men who intend to use power punches to get the other out of the ring. They have a true disliking towards the other and will surely turn this fight quickly into a brawl instead of a boxing match. This is a fight that definitely has the potential for a fight of the year candidacy and is one that boxing fans have really been waiting for.
The second fight of the night will take place back across the pond at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Two world champions, one current and one former will step into the ring and look to put on a show as the little guys continue to headline on Saturday night.
Kiko Martinez (35-6 26KO) is a former Super Bantamweight world Champion. The 29 year old Spaniard has been in the ring with some of the best fighters in the world, taking on Frampton twice, Quigg and Mathebula to name a few. He is on a three fight winning streak and will need to really step his game up if he looks to contend with the heavy hands of Leo Santa Cruz. Martinez has had a rough career, and unless he has a good showing this Saturday, this could possibly be his last bid at a title shot.
Leo Santa Cruz (31-0-1 17KO) is a 2 division world champion, currently holding the WBC Featherweight title. He has very good punching power and throws more punches then almost any current boxer does today. Santa Cruz is coming off of the biggest victory of his career, last August, when he won a Majority Decision over former champion Abner Mares. Santa Cruz has moved up a weight class and will be tested by the veteran Martinez, but Leo should be able to continue to dominate in the weight division, with his toe to toe, volume punching style.
Press Conf Quotes:
LEO SANTA CRUZ
“Headlining a televised card has been my childhood dream. I could have never imagined I was going to get this far. And Here I am, on my second main event, defending my title on a premium network. I’m so psyched. I cannot believe it.
“The first time I put the gloves on, I knew that I had found my craft, and I also knew that it was not going to be an easy road. I knew that I had to work hard to become a champion. So, I trained the hardest and I fought the hardest, and with my father by my side I got here, where I’m at today. I owe him everything.
“I remember watching all the great Mexican Champions and day dreaming about being like them one day. It felt unreachable. I thought it was impossible to get where they were. But I worked hard, really hard from the beginning.
“The most important thing is that the fans leave happy and get their money’s worth. I’m glad that Kiko has come prepared because we’re ready for a great fight.
“People are saying that I should walk through Kiko Martinez, but I don’t listen to that. I look at Kiko the same way I look at any other opponent. When we step inside the ring, we are equals.
“At the end of the day, the winner will be the fighter who has prepared more and who has imposed his will on the other man.
“I have faced much stronger boxers than Leo and come Saturday, all of those who did bet on me for this fight, I am going to make you a lot of money.
“I am excited and proud to know that Sergio Martinez will be present on Saturday supporting me. His guidance and presence
“My trainer could not be here, but we have not taken one day off in training camp and I have been pushed to my limit to prepare me for this fight. I’m thankful to Robert Garcia for being in my corner on Saturday.
“I know this is a great opportunity to fight Leo Santa Cruz and I will make the most of it. I’m going to leave everything inside the ring so that the fight fans enjoy a great championship matchup.
“I feel that Leo Santa Cruz is a great fighter, he has beat some incredible fighters. He’s a great athlete and boxer. Sometimes people will try to make him out to be more than he actually is but they are mistaken with what they see in me. I am not to be mistaken as the underdog here.