IBF super bantam boss Kiko Martinez lit up Pabellon Esperanza Lag in Elche, Spain last night as he came through his maiden defense with flying colors, schooling experienced former world titlist Jeffrey Mathebula.
Martinez continues his career turnaround, just ten months after his stoppage loss at the hands of Carl Frampton, looking better than ever as he took apart Mathebula in nine rounds.
The 27 year old from Alicante, Spain annexed the IBF belt in August, pulling off a stunning upset of highly touted Jhonatan Romero that no one saw coming.
The veteran of three world title fights and himself an IBF super bantam champ in 2012, Mathebula was expected to give Martinez a lot of problems, particularly given his six inch height and vast edge in reach.
But that never came to be as Martinez turned Mathebula's expected advantages into distinct disadvantages, getting close to the 34 year old from Brakpan, South Africa and belting him around the ring.
Mathebula was unable to get his usual high volume offense going effectively as he was kept on the defensive by the Spanish buzzsaw.
Martinez, 30-4 (22), tired by the midway point and Mathebula, 27-5-2 (14), picked up the slack but could not hurt Martinez, who got his second wind by the seventh and pressured the former champion before ending the show with a searing left hand to Mathebula's midsection in the ninth round.
At ringside for the bout were two UK boxers, WBA champion Scott Quigg and European titlist Carl Frampton, who are looking to challenge Martinez in 2014.
Martinez has previously fought eight times in the British isles and would likely face either Quigg or Frampton there in what would be a lucrative super bantam showdown.