by James Slater – Roman “Rocky” Martinez, the undefeated 26-year-old from Puerto Rico who holds the WBO super-featherweight title, is well known to U.K fight fans. Back in March of last year, the 23-0-1(14) talent came over to Manchester, England to challenge Dagenham’s Nicky Cook for the WBO crown “Cookie” had won with a fine points victory over “Amazing” Alex Arthur the previous year. Less than four rounds into the exciting fight, “Rocky” was the new champion..
Since then, Martinez has made one retention of his belt – a 9th-round KO of Colombia’s Feider Viloria this past September – and now, according to FightNews, the WBO champ will soon be meeting his number-one contender, Ricky Burns. According to word on FightNews, a purse bid will be called for on January 13th. Can Scotland’s Burns, 27-2(7) manage to defeat the defending champ?
27-year-old Burns has been on a roll since suffering what was only his second defeat as a pro; to Carl Johanneson back in February of 2007. Winning 12 fights in a row, and picking up the Commonwealth title as well as defending it a couple of times during this period of success, the tall-for-the-weight (5’10”) Burns also earned his#1 ranking with the WBO. Not a big puncher by any means (just those 7 stoppage wins), the Scot is a good boxer-mover who has great stamina, grit and determination, along with reasonably fast hands.
Though Martinez will no doubt be seen by most as the favourite to win, wherever the fight is held, the match-up is a good one and by no means a foregone conclusion. The shorter man at 5’8,” Martinez is a good aggressive fighter, yet he was hurt himself a little in the win over Cook. And Burns, with his good chin, has never been stopped as a pro. With his advantages in height and reach, Burns’ plan will almost certainly be to outbox his man at range. But can he do it?
His last two stoppage wins aside, Martinez has no eye-catching wins on his record – although wins over Daniel Jiminez and Walter Estrada are decent victories for him. And though Burns will be contesting his first “world” title, he has been in with good men. Burns went the full 12 with Arthur in his only other loss and he has wins over the tough duo that is Graham Earl and Michael Gomez. The fight with Martinez will represent his toughest fight on paper, for sure, but Burns is not a no-hoper in this fight.
If he can keep his confidence, avoid being caught by a big shot early and if he doesn’t fade late on (his stamina has never let him down before), Burns has a excellent shot at causing the upset and winning on points. Martinez is extremely dangerous early in a fight, though, and the first four or five rounds will be most intriguing.
Going out on a limb, I go for Burns by a very close decision win.