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Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Kiko Martinez to make first defense

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Junior featherweight titlist Kiko Martinez, who pulled an upset on Aug. 17 to win a 122-pound world title, will make his first defense in a homecoming fight in Spain on Dec. 21.

Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez -- no relation -- promotes Kiko Martinez and made the announcement Tuesday.

Kiko Martinez
Kiko Martinez, right, beat Jhonathan Romero on Aug. 17 to win the junior featherweight title.

Kiko Martinez (29-4, 21 KOs), 27, will face mandatory challenger Jeffrey Mathebula (27-4-2, 14 KOs), 34, a former world titleholder from South Africa, at a site to be determined in Spain.

Branco Milenkovic, Mathebula's promoter, said he had made a deal for the fight, so a purse bid was called off.

Martinez, a three-time European champion, was two fights removed from a ninth-round knockout loss to rising contender Carl Frampton when he got a shot at world titleholder Jhonatan "Momo" Romero of Colombia and unexpectedly knocked him out in the sixth round of an exciting performance to win the title on the undercard of the Darren Barker-Daniel Geale middleweight title fight at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J.

Mathebula used to hold the same belt Martinez now has. In March 2012, Mathebula was awarded a split decision in a rematch against countryman Takalani Ndlovu to win it. For his first defense, Mathebula traveled to Carson, Calif., in July 2012, to meet eventual fighter of the year Nonito Donaire in a title unification match. Donaire dropped Mathebula in the fourth round, broke his jaw and won a lopsided decision.

Mathebula returned in March to win a unanimous decision against Ndlovu in their rematch, putting himself in position to challenge for the title again.

Martinez will be fighting at home for the first time since 2011.