Raul Martinez: Is this the year of “the cobra”?
By Joseph Herron: In professional prizefighting, very few combatants ever receive the honor and opportunity to compete at the world class level. An even fewer number of athletes ever get the chance to fight for one of the coveted world titles. The number of elite level fighters to receive a multiple number of opportunities at the championship level is even slimmer. It takes a very special fighter to obtain these numerous chances at greatness.
Article posted on 19.04.2011
Raul “The Cobra” Martinez, who hails from San Antonio, TX, is one of those special fighters.
On November 20th, 2010, Martinez faced one of his toughest tests to date when he fought and defeated the IBF Super Flyweight number two ranked contender, Rodrigo “El Gatito” Guerrero.
In a grueling and bloody war of attrition, Raul Martinez fought tooth and nail with the iron-chinned Mexican fighter for 12 rounds and secured his opportunity to fight for the coveted IBF Super Flyweight World Championship; currently held by former “Pound for Pound” pugilist Cristian Mijares.
Although nearly taking out Guerrero in the ninth and eleventh rounds, as well as outclassing his formidable opponent, “The Cobra” won by a split decision. Ringside judge Lisa Giampa officially scored the bout 117-111 for Guerrero.
“Even though my face didn’t look very good, I felt I won a unanimous decision,” states Martinez. “It just goes to show how some judges view fights differently, and a knock-out is always best.”
A knock-out is indeed the most definitive victory a fighter can obtain in the sport, and a definitive victory is what Martinez will need if he hopes to lift the title from the current IBF Super Flyweight Champion when they fight in Ciudad Obregon in Sonora, Mexico next month.
According to numerous sources, the IBF is pushing for a May 14th title defense against the sanctioning body’s number one mandatory opponent, although Cristian Mijares has committed that date to face the IBF number seven ranked fighter, Malik Bouziane.
“From what I’ve been told, both of our camps have agreed to fight for the title next month, but no contracts have been signed as of yet,” claims Martinez. “We’ve been told that it’s a done deal, so we’re going to train like it is definitely happening.”
According to IBF Championship Chairman Lindsey Tucker, the sanctioning body has not yet received any notification of an agreement.
“We sent out a letter dated April 11th, giving Mijares and Martinez 30 days to reach an agreement for a scheduled title defense,” stated Tucker. “But, as of today, the IBF has not received official notification that the two parties have reached an agreement.”
Although a title bout with either the IBF Champ or a return bout with Guerrero for a vacated title will be Raul’s first opportunity for the IBF Super Flyweight title, it will mark his second world title fight.
Almost 2 years ago to the day, Martinez faced current “Pound for Pound” fighter Nonito Donaire for his IBF and IBO Flyweight World titles in Manila, Philippines.
The Texas native suffered his first professional defeat when he was stopped by the “Filipino Flash” in the fourth round.
“I’ve put that fight behind me a long time ago and I know that I’m ready for Mijares,” proclaims the 29 year old fighter. “He’s a great fighter and a great Champion, but I feel that this is my time now.”
Martinez realizes that title fights are very hard to come by and a loss would be devastating.
“This is it. This fight is everything to me,” declares Raul. “This is the most important fight of my life and I will do whatever it takes to beat Mijares to become San Antonio’s next World Champion.”
A world title would be the culmination of the immense hard work and dedication to the sport of boxing that Raul has exhibited since the age of 15.
“I told my Dad that I wanted to become a boxer when I was 15,” recalls Martinez. “He didn’t believe me, so I would work on hitting the bag every day. My Dad, who used to box professionally, saw how committed I was and finally brought me into the gym to start training me properly.”
Martinez was an exceptional amateur fighter, winning numerous national titles at 112 lbs. He quickly gained the reputation as one of America’s best young prospects.
91 amateur bouts later, “The Cobra” made his official professional ring debut at age 22.
Martinez immediately made a splash in the flyweight division by defeating 9 of his first 12 opponents by knockout in just 20 months of work. His impressive 12-0 start caught the eye of network television.
On January 6th, 2006, Raul was scheduled to fight Colombian Andres Ledesma on ShoBox and delivered a dramatic and fan friendly bout, which saw Martinez win with a crushing right hand to the jaw of the overmatched Ledesma.
Martinez had officially arrived, and the world of boxing had to take notice.
“The Cobra” continued to string together win after impressive win and now carries a 28-1 record into the most crucial time of his professional career.
“It’s now or never for me,” explains Martinez. “I am treating this Championship fight like it’s the very last title opportunity I’ll ever have…because it very well could be.”
Martinez explains why he treats this fight with such urgency.
“I’m hungry and I want so desperately to bring one of the major world titles back home to San Antonio,” declares the 29 year old fighter. “I want to put San Antonio back on the boxing map and join Quiroga, Leija, and Johnson to become our fourth world champion.”
Raul “The Cobra” Martinez assures his fans and his family back home that he will do everything he can to be victorious this time.
“I would like to say thank you to all of my fans, family, and friends who have supported me throughout my quest for a championship title. We’re almost there. I will work as hard as I can to win my next fight.”
Joseph Herron is the San Antonio Boxing Examiner for Examiner.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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