THE BIG INTERVIEW – JOSH WARRINGTON
By Richard Hubbard
Josh Warrington fully acknowledges that taking on Kiko Martinez is anything but a marking time fight designed to dust off the cobwebs following his ring absence.
The well-seasoned Spaniard is a veteran of 44 professional visits to the ring and the former world champion at super bantamweight harbours ambitions of his own to reign at featherweight.
Taking on the highly-ranked Warrington affords the 31-year-old the opportunity to elevate himself back into world title contention and he is not an opponent craftily booked at just a few weeks notice – Martinez has also benefitted from a long training camp.
So, given the fact Warrington hasn’t fought for ten months since stopping Patrick Hyland in July of last year, taking on a highly regarded ex-champion hardly represents easy pickings for his return to the Leeds Arena on Saturday.
“Not really, it is a bit of a funny one to go back into after having so long out, but we don’t take the easy options,” reasoned the 24-0 man, who is preparing for his opening night under the BoxNation-BT Sport banner. “When I signed with Frank we talked about going on and fighting for world honours and stepping up a level.
“Let’s be honest, we can’t be going into a big world title fights and calling out the elite if we don’t look good fighting against the likes of Kiko Martinez. He has been a world champion, but he has probably seen better days.”
That said, Martinez is 31, not 41 and has plenty left in the tank.
“He is tough, not done and far from it,” agreed the 26-year-old. “He carries power and you don’t lose that power. He has had a full camp for this one, whereas other fights when he has come over here he has had only three or four weeks notice.
“He has had a good ten weeks and, with me having good rankings, he knows if he wins he can catapult himself right back into it. He’s gonna come over here and give it absolutely everything. He is a tough test.
“It is only my first one back, but that it what we want, we want a tough test.”
Warrington doesn’t go along with the notion that Martinez could be considered an elite level gatekeeper, preferring to respect his opposition as still belonging in the top bracket.
“He is definitely an elite level fighter and I have never boxed a former world champion before. In terms being my hardest opponent at the highest level, probably so.
“He will give any world champion a run for his money because you don’t get to be a world champion by being a nobody, you’ve got to be a special fighter,” added Warrington, before recalling the last vist of Martinez to these shores.
His stay in the ring proved to be short-lived in July 2015 when he was caught cold by a clubbing hook courtesy of Scott Quigg. However, the Bury man was a bit like a rabbit in the headlights during the first round as Martinez bossed proceedings.
“Obviously that shot in the second round was a well-timed shot, although I didn’t expect him to go down like that. He had Quigg worried a bit in the first round though and had two hard fights with Carl Frampton.
“Frampton has always said he is as hard as they come and that is what I am expecting. I am expecting another mini-Mike Tyson, somebody who will keep coming forward and make me work for the full 12.”
Warrington is also a relentless volume puncher so can we expect fire to be met with fire on the night?
“You’ve got to be adaptable. People say Kiko can do nothing else but come forward, but he might try something different. It is tough to prepare for that because he throws shots from different angles and punches in volume as well.
“You never know when he is going to change it up and put it on you, or take a round off. You’ve got to fight your own fight and not go along with his gameplan.”
Next time: Josh assesses the options and considers what comes next should he account for the threat of Martinez in Leeds