For WBC international featherweight champion Josh Warrington (24-0), Saturday’s showdown with former world champion Kiko Martinez (36-7-1) of Spain is considered a step-up fight for the 26-year-old Briton, who is making the third defense of his belt. Warrington has worked his way up through the British system, winning British, Commonwealth and European titles on his way up the ladder.
On paper, Martinez is a very high-level opponent. Martinez has held a world title at super bantamweight, and he has experience fighting in England, facing both Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton with a world title on the line. We last saw Martinez in February of last year when he traveled to California to face Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA world title at featherweight and came up short, as his opponent stopped him in five rounds. Martinez has gone 1-0-1 in fights since then in his native Spain, and considering his brief world title reign came at a lower weight class, and he is now on the plus side of 30 years old, so he may have already seen his best days.
Warrington will be a wide favorite, and you may want to check out the two fighters side by side. British matchmakers are notorious for bringing in smaller fighters to match their guys with, and it is a good bet that Martinez will be looking up at Warrington in this mismatch.
British super bantamweight champion James Dickens (22-2) will also defend his belt against undefeated Thomas Patrick Ward (20-0) on the card. Dickens stepped up in his last fight to face all-world Guillermo Rigondeaux last July, and he got his jaw broken in round two, so this is his first fight back from the injury. Ward is undefeated but lacks experience. He went 4-0 in 2016, but three of the fights were six rounds in length, and the opponents were in line with that level of fight.
The most competitive line of the evening so far comes in the 140-pound, 12-round bout between undefeated Josh Leather (11-0) and Philip Sutcliffe Jr. (13-1) as they battle for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title. There are 12 fights slated for Saturday’s card overall, so check back later in the week to see if any other bouts have been added at the books.
First Direct Arena – Leeds, England
Featherweight – 12 rounds
Kiko Martinez +1500 o9½ -180
Josh Warrington -3000 u9½ +150
Super Bantamweight – 12 rounds
Thomas Patrick Ward +150
James Dickens -170
Super Lightweight – 12 rounds
Philip Sutcliffe Jr. -125
Josh Leather -105
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