frampton-setanta1The first fight was an intriguing clash of styles. Kiko Martinez swaggered in to Belfast with his European super-bantamweight title but left empty handed after being comprehensively knocked out by Carl Frampton on a cold February evening at the Odyssey Arena. Now they will do it all again, in an impressively constructed outdoor venue on the Titanic Slipways in early September. This time Kiko arrives with a world title and promoter Barry McGuigan reckons that his man will once again strip the Spaniard of his prize asset. The Cyclone Promotions head man is expecting the fight to be even better than the first and a scrap befitting of the fantastic 16,000 capacity venue.

“The last one was a sensational fight but I believe that this one will be even better,” predicted McGuigan.

“Carl has trained terrifically hard. This is an incredible fight and occasion for Northern Ireland boxing. Everything that is Belfast is in this arena out there. The stands are very close together and it’s a bit claustrophobic and will be very atmospheric.”

One element that could play a part in the mindset of the travelling champion is the fact that he has already been stopped by the man he faces tonight. Kiko was doing well in the first fight and margins on the cards, both amongst TV observers and the judges at ringside, were tight. However, Frampton’s equaliser, the big overhand right, that removed Martinez from his senses must surely be in the back of his mind. Barry sees the finish of the first bout as a significant factor in their return but is also at pains to point out that Kiko has improved as a fighter since their first meeting.

“It is significant but just like our opponent I am not going to talk out of turn. I’ve got great respect for Kiko, we know that he’s improved and has more confidence. He’s won the title and we believe he got the shot that Carl should’ve got. This kid [Frampton] is in great condition and I know that Kiko thinks he hasn’t improved but we know he has and we will see what happens on Saturday night.”

If the first fight was bothering him Kiko did not let it show at Thursday’s press conference in the Titanic Centre. Donning an oversized pair of shades, he looked lean and tight in the face as expected, but cool and relatively unflappable. It was a stark contrast to the tetchy, antagonistic visitor that appeared last time and had to be restrained by promoter Eddie Hearn as things got heated. ‘La Sensacion’ and his team point to out-of-the-ring complications being the reason behind his performance and Kiko himself claims that there was some divine intervention behind the way things have transpired.

“I have no doubt that this will be on the best fights that has ever taken place in this country. The last fight was a learning experience and sometimes God takes something out of you to give you something better and God gave me the world title,” mused Martinez.

“It’s not about underestimating him or being overconfident, it was just a bad night and that’s the way boxing goes.”

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