By Danny Winterbottom
A beautifully timed right hand by Carl Frampton knocked out Kiko Martinez at 2-46 of round nine after a bruising encounter for the European and IBF Intercontinental super bantamweight titles inside a noisy Odyssey Arena in Belfast much to the delight of his mentor Barry McGuigan.
Frampton (8st 9lbs 5oz) passed the toughest test of his professional career with flying colours in front of a watching Scott Quigg as Martinez (8st 9lbs) stayed true to his word and pressured the talented Northern Irishman from the off, closing down the distance quickly as he looked to land an overhand right seconds into the contest.
The 26-year-old Alicante native, in his second reign as European champion, came out hooking in round number two as the action began to suit the free swinging Spaniard. Frampton had his head snapped back by a left hand as Martinez tested the credentials of the Barry McGuigan protégé.
Frampton afforded the hard punching Martinez his due respect by boxing cautiously off the back foot but in turn allowed the champion to build up a head of steam as he ploughed forwards and attacked the tattooed body of the Irishman. A left downstairs got through from the champion in round three, forcing Frampton to hold.
A cut appeared around the left eye of Martinez in round four but that didn’t stop him marauding forward throwing punches with hurtful intent. A big left hook landed clean on the jaw of Frampton but that seemed to shake him into life as he turned his man and opened up with both hands from range.
The fifth saw Frampton find some much needed space to land his classier shots as he comprehensively out boxed Martinez in this session, landing the right uppercut on numerous occasions and by half way the champion had begun to slow down and Frampton started to pick him off with punches in bunches.
A spear like right hand from Frampton in round seven brought huge cheers from the packed crowd but Martinez wasn’t going to give up his title without a fight as he bundled forward and made life uncomfortable for Frampton at times.
Martinez out worked his man in round eight and the pair stood nose to nose in the ninth as they traded blows inside. A short right hand seemed to make Martinez stumble forward towards the ropes midway through the session and Frampton let his hands go looking for the finish. Martinez closed him down before Frampton took half a step back and fired a right hand that dropped the Spaniard heavily to the canvas. Referee Anssi Perajoki began to administer the count and Martinez bravely made it to his feet at eight but stumbled back when the referee asked him to walk forward and the contest was waved off with 14 seconds remaining.
Martinez falls to 27-4 (19) whilst Frampton remains unbeaten with a record of 16-0 (11) and a clash between the new champion and British ruler Scott Quigg becomes even more mouth-watering.
“He was harder to hit than I thought. He had good movement and was hard as nails. The smack talk was just part of the build-up; I actually think he’s a nice man. It shows I have a solid chin against one of the hardest punchers in the division” said Frampton afterwards.
“It would be amazing if me and my rival Scott Quigg could fight sometime in the future. It’s a fight the fans want to see.”
McGuigan added “Carl showed tonight he could punch, he could box, he could take a punch and he could go into the trenches. He is a marvellous talent and going right to the top.”
In the chief support British and Commonwealth featherweight champion Lee Selby (8st 13lbs 5oz) moved to 14-1 (5) after a dominant 12 round performance over an extremely brave but out gunned Martin Lindsay (8st 13lbs). Judge Richie Davies scored the contest 118-110; Steve Gray carded 117-111 and John Keane 118-109 all for the man from Barry, South Wales. Marcus McDonnell officiated.
Selby, who has stopped his last four opponents, looked a division bigger and much more powerful than Lindsay, a former British champion, and set about busting up the home favourite from the off. Lindsay, 30, had success with his right hand in the opening few sessions before Selby began to dig hard to the body making Martin wince. Lindsay was forced to grit his teeth to survive and showed incredible bravery in a torrid third round as Selby took control of the fight.
Selby looked to have extra gears to find if needed and when Lindsay threatened to get a foot hold in the fight he would dig in hard and accurate shots to both head and body.
Lindsay was badly marked up around his left eye and had to endure a hammering in the tenth but survived to see out the contest but was well beaten on the cards.
Selby looks a star in the making and is ready to be moved onto European level but maybe a potential rematch with Liverpool’s Stephen Smith awaits the champion first.
“I would like Lee to win the Lonsdale belt outright, go the traditional route, before moving on” said his manager Chris Sanigar after the bout.
OTHER RESULTS FROM THE BELFAST CARD TO FOLLOW