ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Two fights ago, three-time European junior featherweight champion Kiko Martinez got knocked out by Carl Frampton in the ninth round. Now, after pulling an upset on Saturday night, he holds a world title.
Martinez outgunned Jhonatan Romero and knocked him out in the sixth round to win a world junior featherweight title in unexpected fashion on the undercard of the Daniel Geale-Darren Barker middleweight title fight at the Revel Casino-Hotel.
"This is a dream come true for me," Martinez said through a translator. "[Ring announcer] Michael Buffer called out my name. This is a dream. I am super-happy. I have no words. All I want to do is give my daughter a kiss when I get home."
Romero and Martinez went right at each other in the first round. There was no getting-to-know-you at all. But Martinez, in particular, was super-aggressive and winging hard shots, which eventually caught up to Romero, who took a beating and was a bloody mess when the fight was finally stopped.
Martinez (29-4, 21 KOs), 27, of Spain, caught Romero in the first, hurting him on a left hand and backing up. Martinez landed 44 of 88 power shots in the round and never let up.
He backed Romero up throughout the fight. He was pressuring him relentlessly and, in the third round, was strafing Romero with right hands, including one that opened a cut over the beltholder's left eye.
In the sixth round, Martinez -- who is promoted by middleweight champ Sergio Martinez (no relation) and shares trainer Pablo Sarmiento with him -- was bouncing Romero off the ropes with a series of shots.
Romero was out on his feet, and when Martinez blasted him with two more clean right hands, sending him into a corner, referee David Fields stepped in at 2 minutes, 40 seconds.
"I knew I had to keep throwing punches because he wasn't responding," said Martinez, who added that he wanted to fight former titleholder Nonito Donaire next. "Sooner or later, the referee would have to stop the fight."
Romero (23-1, 12 KOs), 26, of Colombia, was making the first defense of the vacant 122-pound title he won by split decision against Mexico's Alejandro Lopez on Feb. 16.
Dulorme stops Figueroa
Junior welterweight Thomas Dulorme (19-1, 14 KOs) continued a comeback from his first career defeat in a one-sided eighth-round knockout of Frankie Figueroa (20-6-1, 13 KOs).
Dulorme won his third fight in a row since being stopped by contender Luis Carlos Abregu in October. Dulorme and his team bit off more than he could chew in Abregu, and now Dulorme is being moved a bit more cautiously to allow the 23-year-old from Puerto Rico to develop.
Figueroa, 35, of New York, a veteran southpaw with experience against top fighters (such as former titleholder Randall Bailey), was game, but Dulorme pounded him throughout the fight.
In the third round, Dulorme dropped Figueroa to his rear end with a right hand. He dropped him again in the fifth round with a left hook to the body, but later in the round, referee Ricardo Vera deducted a point from Dulorme for a low blow after having issued previous warnings.
Dulorme unleashed numerous combinations and was doing so again in the eighth round. He had Figueroa backing into the ropes and was unloading with several unanswered blows when Vera intervened to stop the fight 47 seconds into the eighth round of their scheduled 10-rounder.
• Featherweight Joel Brunker (27-0, 15 KOs), a 2004 Australian Olympian and rising contender, outpointed Mike Oliver (25-5, 8 KOs) of Hartford, Conn., who was coming off a competitive loss to former featherweight titlist Billy Dib on July 5.
Brunker won the eight-rounder by unanimous decision, as all three judges had it 78-74.
Brunker was hoping to make an impression for the fight, and he did his part to make an entertaining scrap. He and Oliver battled in close quarters in a rough, tough fight during which Brunker, who outworked Oliver and seemed to be the heavier hitter, suffered a bad cut over his left eye from an accidental head-butt in the fifth round. The blood was pouring down his face when referee Allen Huggins called timeout later in the round so that the ringside doctor could examine him.
Brunker's corner did a good job of keeping the cut closed -- it wasn't an issue for the rest of the fight.
Before the fight, Brunker referred to the experienced Oliver as a "rite of passage" kind of opponent. Oliver has faced several good opponents, including Dib and former two-division titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez.
• Junior welterweight Yordenis Ugas (14-1, 7 KOs), a 2008 Cuban Olympic bronze medalist now living in Miami, cruised to a unanimous 10-round decision victory against John Williams (11-2-1, 5 KOs) of Charlotte, N.C. The judges had it 99-90, 98-91 and 98-91.
It was a dreary affair with little action and long stretches of inactivity from both fighters, but Ugas was clearly the better technician and got the better of their few exchanges.
The best action came in the 10th round with a half-minute left in the fight, after referee Randy Neuman docked a point from Ugas for a low blow.
Ugas won his fourth fight in a row since suffering an upset eight-round split decision loss to Johnny Garcia in March 2012.
Williams saw his four-fight winning streak end, although he has faced abysmal opposition recently, with his past five opponents owning records well below .500.
• In the opening bout of the night, lightweight Jhonatan Macielo (20-1, 12 KOs) dominated Jose Alejandro Rodriguez (19-12, 11 KOs) en route to a 10th-round knockout. Macielo, of Peru, caught Mexico's Rodriguez with a right hand early in the final round, dropping him to his knees. Referee Allen Huggins counted him out 22 seconds into the round.