Martinez (left) at war with Orlando Salido. Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Former three-time WBO junior lightweight titleholder Roman Martinez will return from a near three-year hiatus against Hungarian journeyman Adam Mate at the Ruben Zayas Montañez Coliseum in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico on Friday.
In June 2016, the Puerto Rican power-puncher lost his WBO 130-pound strap via spectacular fifth-round knockout to the uber-talented Vasiliy Lomachenko and required some time away from the sport.
“I took time to rest my body and spend time with my family, occasionally going to the gym to keep in shape,” Martinez told The Ring through Aleudi Rosario Cotto of PR Best Boxing Promotions. “I love to box, but a rest is important physically and mentally. There have been many years fighting.”
At 36 years old, “Rocky” Martinez (29-3-3, 17 knockouts) could have been forgiven if he’d never fought again. However, his love for the sport is what brought him back.
“I believe I still can do a few more things in boxing,” said Martinez, who also works as a trainer. “I will try to be a world champion at 135 pounds. I have fought my whole career at 130 and I think I am going to be stronger with some more pounds on my body.
“I am 36 years old, but I am a clean [living] person and I believe I can become a world champion again.”
Mate (28-14, 21 knockouts) has been a professional since 2011. The 28-year-old has slipped into trial horse status and been stopped 11 times, so Martinez will be expecting an inside-the-distance win before setting his sights higher.
His longtime promoter, Peter Rivera of PR Best Boxing, also believes Martinez can rise from the proverbial ashes and win another title.
“I’m looking to get him a world title opportunity in the 135-pound division,” said Rivera. “He is the kind of fighter that every promoter wants to have because he has a lot of discipline. I believe that he still has more to do in boxing. (Two of) his defeats were to (elite-level fighters in) Mikey Garcia and Lomachenko.”
A lightweight championship opportunity won’t be easy to procure with both Garcia and Lomachenko holding three of the four titles. However, Martinez has a good name and bigger fights loom large if he returns with the expected victory.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright
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