Junior lightweight titleholder Roman "Rocky" Martinez will hit the road to make his mandatory defense against Miguel Berchelt.
Puerto Rico's Martinez will square off with Berchelt on March 12 (beIN Sports Espanol) at Poliforum Zamna in Merida, Mexico, Berchelt's hometown. Martinez will fight on Berchelt's home turf because Berchelt promoter Zanfer Promotions won a purse bid (for $215,000) to gain promotional control of the bout.
Martinez will be making the second defense of his third title reign at 130 pounds. He won the belt by competitive unanimous decision from Orlando Salido last April in a sensational fight of the year candidate and then fought Salido to a draw in a rematch in September on the Floyd Mayweather-Andre Berto undercard.
The Martinez and Salido camps were in talks for a third fight, but when negotiations dragged on, the WBO ordered Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs), 33, to make his mandatory defense against Berchelt (28-1, 25 KOs), 24, who will be fighting for a world title for the first time.
Berchelt has won seven fights in a row since suffering his only loss, a first-round knockout to Colombia's Luis Eduardo Flores in March 2014.
"I learned from the defeat against [Flores] and now I am preparing 100 percent under the tutelage of trainer Alfredo Caballero for this opportunity to crown myself as champion," said Berchelt, who won all four of his fights in 2015 by knockout.
Martinez would have preferred to fight in Puerto Rico or the United States, but is ready to go into the lion's den, said Martinez promoter Peter Rivera of Puerto Rico Best Boxing Promotions.
"We hope to go to Merida March 6th or March 7th to acclimatize Rocky there. Although we know that Merida is at sea level, we want Rocky to get used to the weather, too," Rivera said. "We also hope (Zanfer Promotions) sends us the date of Rocky's flight because there is a group of Puerto Rican fans who will make the trip to Mexico to see the fight.
"Rocky is training hard, as always, to get in the best condition for this fight and bring another victory to Puerto Rico."
Should Martinez retain his title, he said he wants to unify belts.
"We are working hard for Berchelt. We are confident in a victory and after this bout, we want to make a fight with [titleholder Francisco] Vargas to unify the titles," Martinez said. "We know it will be a tremendous fight. I know that Vargas is a warrior like me who has always said he would like to face me. So after beating Berchelt, we can unify the titles."
Mexico's Vargas (23-0-1, 17 KOs) is likely headed to a title defense against Salido (43-13-3, 30 KOs), his countryman, on June 4.