Carl Frampton will face Kiko Martinez at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on February 9 live on Sky Sports in Betfair’s ‘Unfinished Business’.
The clash for Martinez’s European super-bantamweight title and Frampton’s IBF Inter-Continental strap kicks off a huge year for the ‘The Jackal’. Frampton is on a collision course with fellow unbeaten young gun Scott Quigg and with Martinez twice pulling out of previous dates with Frampton before settling with new promoter Sergio Martinez, the Belfast boy says he has even more incentive to beat ‘La Sensación’ in front of his adoring fans.
“He’s pulled out on me twice so I have a score to settle with him there,” said Frampton. “It’s a great fight for the fans and one that I have craved for a long time. I had too much for Steve Molitor and he was a step-up, so I am confident I can beat Kiko and do so in style.
“Martinez pulling out in September was a blessing in disguise really as I have been able to mature and learn even more and on February in front of another packed crowd at home, I’m looking to make another statement ahead at the start of a big year.”
The Spaniard assured fight fans it would be third time lucky for him and Frampton to finally lock horns, and predicted a knockout win in front of a partisan Belfast sell-out.
“I do not read much into Carl beating Molitor as he took the fight at late notice and that’s his only fight of 2012,” said Martinez. “I will beat him by KO – there’s no alternative outcome.
“It is not my fault that we have not been able to do this fight so far. There have been many circumstances around that but I know that the Belfast fans will come out and support Carl as always and it will be an electric atmosphere.”
Kiko’s new promoter, the pound-for-pound middleweight king Sergio Martinez, explained in simple terms his reason for snapping up his namesake.
“He is the best boxer in Spain, top three in Europe in its division and top ten in the World,” said Sergio. “We have also been friends for years and he wanted to make a leap in his career and my company was there for him to do so.
“Carl is a talented young fighter but I believe he needs to beat the champions in hostile territory to prove that, which is what Kiko is doing.”
Sergio is looking forward to travelling over to Belfast, the last venue of his three fights over this side of the water when he beat Richard Williams for the IBO light middleweight title at the King’s Hall in April 2004.
“I have very fond memories,” said Sergio. “It is amazing how I have so many fans there and I loved my fights there, especially in Belfast against Williams. I have a special relationship with the British and Irish fans as they love me and treat me with enormous respect which I am thankful for, and I look forward to coming over for the fight.”
Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan added: “We’re pleased this fight is going to happen. I’ve always said that Kiko is a danger from first bell to last and I believe it’s a harder fight than Molitor. Styles make fights and this one is going to be a barn-burner, and the team is confident that Carl will win, and win in style.”
Frampton’s clash with Martinez will headline a massive night of boxing in Belfast as Martin Lindsay faces Lee Selby for the British and Commonwealth featherweight titles, a hotly anticipated fight that was cancelled at the 11th hour on the Frampton-Molitor undercard when Selby fell ill.
“I am delighted that Carl and Kiko will finally fight,” said Hearn. “It has been a long time coming but it is a great fight and one that we felt had to happen for Carl. Kiko has settled well with Sergio, who is a great fighter and a great man and I think this is going to kick-off another big year for Carl in Belfast in style.
“Lee pulling out ill last time we were in Belfast was unfortunate but these things happen in boxing and they cannot be helped. Their fight was one of the most eagerly awaited bouts of 2012 when we announced it and I am sure it will live up to its billing.”
Tickets will go on sale at 10am tomorrow morning from the Odyssey Arena website – www.odysseyarena.com – and information on the rest of the undercard will be released soon.