By Jack Sumner @Jack_Sumner_
Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez makes the second defence of his WBO super featherweight title on Saturday, entering the Venetian Hotel and Casino to defend his crown on foreign soil against Las Vegas native Diego Magdaleno.
Of course the Puerto Rican would be on foreign soil you might say and what’s the big deal about him fighting in the world’s boxing capital? But Magdaleno won’t enjoy home advantage either on the night, as the fight will not be taking place in Sin City.
The 130-pounders have travelled across the globe to Macau, China, where they will meet in the ring at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel. Martinez-Magdaleno will be part of a stacked card in Top Rank’s first promotion in China, which they hope to be the first of many after signing Chinese junior flyweight Zou Shiming, a triple Olympic medallist who makes his pro debut in a four-rounder.
The card also features Brain Viloria’s flyweight title defence against Juan Francisco Estrada and former super bantamweight titleholder Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in with Japanese fighter Yasutaka Ishimoto. But it’s the super featherweights who arguably make for the most intriguing battle, pitting the powerful and aggressive Martinez against the fast, skilled Magdaleno.
After winning back his WBO title with a split-decision victory over Miguel Beltran Jr last September, Martinez (26-1-2, 16 KOs) was again pushed close in the first defence of his new reign when he fought to a draw with Juan Carlos Burgos in January. Many observers felt that Burgos had done enough to get the verdict, but Rocky retained his title and the only defeat on his slate remains the 2010 loss to Ricky Burns.
In Magdaleno (23-0, 9 KOs) he can expect another tough night’s work as the unbeaten southpaw will be full of confidence from the fine form he has shown in his recent outings. He might not be a puncher but the Mexican-American has collected six of his nine stoppage wins in his last eight fights and has typically blown away those opponents with hand speed and accurate punching, with the versatility to either box on the back foot or press forward and attack.
Whilst he may have been dispatching his opponents in impressive fashion however he has not fought at Martinez’s level before. Magdaleno’s biggest scalps are former world title challengers Fernando Beltran and Antonio Davis, but Martinez has contested six world title fights and had his hand raised all but once.
The Puerto Rican has built a reputation for being an exciting slugger and given Magdaleno’s lack of power and the fact he’s tasted the canvas more than once before the challenger would be well advised to keep this fight at a distance. He’s a great mover around the ring and he’ll need to be as Martinez attempts to cut the ring off, where he’ll be much more at home on the inside.
Both men have a high punch output, which bodes well for an entertaining clash, but this will ultimately be a battle between boxer and puncher, with a close affair deciding who reaps the benefit of Macau’s Eastern promise.