2021 Comeback Fighter Of The Year: Kiko Martinez

Kiko Martinez had lost two of his last five fights (although the most recent defeat, against Zelfa Barrett in the UK, was largely seen as a robbery), he was 35 years of age and considered close to the end, if not already there, and the Spanish ring vet had been a better operator down at super-bantamweight. Going into his November challenge of ruling IBF featherweight champ Kid Galahad, Martinez was a huge underdog.

Eddie Hearn later spoke of the grumbling he had had to listen to when first announcing Galahad Vs. Martinez. But what took place inside the Sheffield Arena again showed how unpredictable the sport of boxing really is; while what happened also showed us how no proud former champ who still believes should ever be written off.

Martinez overcame a terrible start, being cut over the eye, losing the rounds and being outboxed. Galahad, who was an impressive 27-1(17) and was making what he believed would be the first in a number of world title defences, was making Kiko look like the underdog he was. But the former IBF super-bantamweight champ never once grew discouraged. And then, in the fifth round, Kiko struck. A cracking right hand sent Galahad down heavily and the crowd was in shock. Then came the bell, almost without any doubt saving Galahad. But not for long.

Striking with the speed and venom of a much younger fighter, Martinez put Galahad’s lights out with another booming right hand to the head, the shot landing as the sound of the bell to begin round six was fading away. This time, Galahad, laid flat on his back, had no chance of getting back up in time to fight on. Martinez had scored the most stunning KO of the year.

Now champion all over again, the 43-10-2(30) ring warrior might have scored what is destined to go down as the most memorable KO win of his long career. For many people, Kiko scored the KO of the Year for 2021. The win proved most satisfying for Martinez, reviving his career in one major way as it did. Martinez’ 6th round KO also gave fans a genuine feel-good sensation. The party in Spain must have been quite something.