The IBF Super Bantamweight Championship was on the line Saturday night at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Kiko Martinez (29-4, 21 KO) knocked off Jhonatan Romero (23-1, 12 KO) to win the title.
Romero didn't come out strong. Martinez won the first round and was up 10-9. Kiko was able to keep Romero on the inside and land blow after blow. Martinez was able to land nearly 50 percent of his power punches in the opening round.
After taking a beating, Romero came out with a different strategy. He was able to move around the ring a little more and make it tougher on Martinez. The second round was fairly even.
Romero seemed to be gaining momentum as the fight went on. He landed many jabs, but the champion couldn't gain much of an advantage on his challenger early on. The two fighters traded rounds as well as blows in the early going. Martinez was landing plenty of punches.
However, ESPN Boxing reported an injury to Romero that may have changed the entire fight:
R4: Romero bleeding from above the left eye. Score another round for Martinez, who leads 39-37.— ESPN Boxing (@ESPNBoxing) August 18, 2013
Once Romero was hurt, all of the momentum seemed to be on Martinez's side. The champion couldn't gather himself and keep the fight going much longer.
Romero found himself against the ropes for much of this fight, which is the biggest reason he was doomed. Martinez came out ready to fight and throw punches. He forced Romero to stay out of the middle of the ring for much of the fight and stuck to his game.
With the title on the line, Romero couldn't do much in the fifth and sixth rounds. His injury seemed to have a big impact on his ability, but Martinez didn't let up.
The smaller fighter, Martinez, was more aggressive on this night. The 5'5" fighter continued to throw punches until he eventually wore Romero down. In the sixth round, the referee decided enough was enough:
R6: But Martinez just keeps coming and that will do it! Referee David Fields steps in. Romero has been stopped in Round 6.— ESPN Boxing (@ESPNBoxing) August 18, 2013
At 5'9", Romero likes to fight in the middle of the ring so he can use his length to his advantage. He wasn't able to do it for the most part and ended up losing the title.
Going into the event, everyone knew Martinez was going to have to keep the fight near the ropes. It was, however, shocking to see him be so effective at it.
Whether or not the injury changed the fight is irrelevant: Martinez came out throwing punches and forcing Romero to fight on the ropes. People can blame the injury, but nobody can deny him anymore.
Martinez is now a champion.