By Nick Giongco
Challenger Raul ‘Cobra’ Martinez of the US strongly feels he needs a knockout to win Nonito Donaire’s IBF flyweight crown on April 19 at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines. “When you fight in the champion’s territory, it’s going to be very hard to win the title (on points),” Martinez told fightnews and Manila Bulletin just before he boarded a Philippine Airlines jet from Los Angeles early Sunday afternoon (Saturday night in the US). Martinez is expected to arrive in Manila at around 6 a.m. of Monday and he will immediately be brought to his official residence, The Manila Hotel, a famous landmark in Manila.
“I have to win by knockout or beat him convincingly (to earn a decision),” said Martinez, a 27-year-old native of San Antonio, Texas. Joining the fighter is chief trainer Fernando Castrejon, the former right-hand man of Nacho Beristain, and Alberto Cruces.
Holder of a 24-0 record with 14 knockouts, Martinez said he has the firepower to win the scheduled 12-rounder via the short route. In his last outing last November 2008, Martinez knocked out erstwhile undefeated Victor Proa in just 68 seconds.
Even if he wins seven or eight rounds, Martinez feels that the decision will not favor him since he is fighting away from home.
A fellow native of San Antonio, ex-world champion Jesse James Leija, as quoted by SA Express News fight scribe John Whisler, has advised Martinez to go for the kill.
“Martinez can’t leave it up to the judges,” Leija said. “(Martinez) has to be the judge.”
The Donaire-Martinez slugfest will headline the card that will also feature another IBF championship fight—the battle for the light-flyweight crown between defending champion Ulises Solis of Mexico and challenger Brian Viloria, the Hawaii-born puncher of Filipino lineage.
Solar Sports is staging the show in partnership with Top Rank Inc, who will be represented here by no less than Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum.
Arum is arriving in Manila on Friday morning together with key officials of the promotional outfit.
Martinez, who boasts of a lethal left hook, said he is “right on target” in his training and that he currently weighs 114 lbs, just two (lbs) over the limit.