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‘Very Special’ – Kiko Martinez discusses his unique relationship with Ireland

Kiko Martinez says he is more popular in Ireland than he is in parts of his home country of Spain.

A three-time European and two weight world champion, Martinez boasts a CV that would have him a much-lauded star worth a mention in the ‘greatest Irish boxer of all time’ debate if he held an Irish passport.

However, despite the fact, he is possibly the greatest fighter ever to come out of Spain, there are parts of his homeland where he remains a relative unknown.

In fact, speaking to Jonathan Drennan of the Guardian ahead of his eight world title fight, a featherweight defence against Josh Warrington tonight, La Sensación revealed he feels more appreciated in Ireland than in Spain – and it seems to be a love and respect that is reciprocated.

“Ireland is honestly very special for me. I love being able to walk down the street in Ireland and men, women and kids ask me for a photo. I now have a lot of good friends in Ireland – Frampton, Conlan, Bernard Dunne and the promoters,” Martinez said.

“There’s so much history between me and the Irish. Without doubt, I’m more popular in Ireland than in Spain. I was always treated very well and everyone has always known more about me in Ireland than say Madrid or Barcelona. I think it’s because of their knowledge and love of the sport of boxing. It was always an honour to go to Ireland to fight and feel so loved.”

Leeds, UK: Kiko Martinez and Josh Warrington Weigh In ahead of their IBF Featherweight World Title fight tomorrow night. 25 March 2022 Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing

Martínez’s was first introduced to the Irish fight fan when he fought Bernard Dunne back in 2007. The menacing puncher turned a boisterous Point Theatre into a morgue in just 62 seconds, upsetting the nation as he took the Dubliner’s European super bantamweight title.

He left Ireland after that fight with the respect of Irish fight fans if not their love. However, as he returned over the years – working separately with Brian Peters and Pat Magee – his approach, style, demeanor, and his story saw the Irish fight family welcome the little battler into the house.

He had to move out on the two occasions he fought Carl Frampton but the respect he showed the Belfast man once their rivalry ended meant when he returned he was welcomed back and given his choice of rooms.

It’s got to the stage now that his most recent world title victory over Kid Gallahad was celebrated joyously amongst the Irish fight fraternity and most will be wishing him well as he defends his IBF strap tonight.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com