Romero to defend title vs. Martinez

Updated: July 11, 2013, 8:00 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Junior featherweight Jonathan "Momo" Romero will make the first defense of his title when he faces former European champion Kiko Martinez on Aug. 17 at the Revel Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., Romero co-promoters Gary Shaw and Thompson Boxing announced on Thursday.

"Jonathan is a very talented fighter that brings a lot of excitement to the ring with his active style," Shaw said. "I believe he's the best (junior featherweight) in the world today, and I'm pleased that HBO will be televising his fight. He's in a tough fight, but I believe he'll come out on top."

The fight (HBO, 9:45 p.m. ET/PT) will be part of a televised split-site tripleheader that also will include middleweight titlist Daniel Geale (29-1, 15 KOs) of Australia making the fifth defense of his belt when he faces Darren Barker (25-1, 16 KOs) of England in the main event.

The other bout will be light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KOs) defending his light heavyweight belt for the sixth time when he faces Russia's Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KOs) at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales, Cleverly's home country.

"I'm very thankful to my promoters Gary Shaw and Thompson Boxing for getting me this fight on HBO," Romero said. "In my last fight I accomplished my dream of becoming a world champion and now it's time to defend it. I know Martinez is a big puncher but I believe my boxing skills will prevail in this fight. I'm coming to win and win impressively."

After Nonito Donaire relinquished a version of the 122-pound world title last fall, Romero (23-0, 12 KOs), 26, of Colombia, faced Mexico's Alejandro Lopez for the vacant belt on Feb. 16 in Tijuana, Mexico, and won a split decision.

"Since winning the world title Romero has become a star in Colombia and we want him to make the crossover," Thompson Boxing's Alex Camponovo said. "We know Kiko Martinez will be a rigorous test for Romero, but we can't cut any corners at this level. It will be a great match because both men are ready to shine and more than willing to show their ability."

The 27-year-old Martinez (28-4, 20 KOs), of Spain, has held the European title three times. His third reign came to an end via ninth-round knockout loss to rising contender Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland on Feb. 9.

Martinez, who is promoted by middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (no relation), rebounded for a second-round knockout win of Damian David Marchiano on April 27 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the undercard of Martinez's homecoming defense against Martin Murray.

"Romero is a very good fighter, but he has never faced a powerful puncher like me," Martinez said. "Once he feels my power he'll know he's in for a short night. My goal is get the knockout one way or another. The fans watching will witness an explosive fight from my end."