After hosting six successive world championship super bantamweight fights, Orion Sports Management are set to welcome a former world champion and former title challenger hoping to get back to the top of the 122 pound division this Friday March 20th at Casino Rama in Orillia Ontario. Mauricio Martinez (35-8-1 23 KO) of Panama, a former WBO bantamweight champion battles former title challenger Heriberto Ruiz (40-7-2 23KO) of Mexico as the main event in Rumble at Rama VII, the first fight card at the facility not to feature former IBF champion and hometown hero Steve Molitor.
Ranked #11 and #13 by the IBF, the contest should provide the winner with a legitimate chance to competing for top-spot within the division where it has been a while for both fighters who are now both in their early thirties. Martinez captured the vacant WBO bantamweight crown in 2000 and managed one successful defence before losing it to Cruz Carbajal in 2002. Three years later he was on the wrong end of a majority decision when he again fought for the same crown and came up short versus Ratanachai Sor Vorapin in a fight held in Thailand.
“My goal is to get another world title around my waist,” said Martinez at the final press held earlier this week. “Ruiz is a great fighter, there’s no denying that, but nobody is going to get in my way.”
Ruiz, who holds a decision win over reigning IBF Featherweight champion Cristobal Cruz, and was stopped in his only world title shot by then IBF Bantamweight kingpin Rafael Marquez in July of 2004, is equally determined to earn another crack at boxing’s ultimate glory.
“He’s a good boxer, and a former world champion, and he’s in good shape. But I’m tough, and I can box too.
“I really don’t see anything big problem that he poses.
“Everybody here has given us a great opportunity, and I’m thankful. But I’m here to win, and we’ll see that happen on Friday,” said Ruiz.
The undercard has the same hard hitting appeal as the main event, highlighted by a clash for the Canadian Heavyweight title between undefeated champion Greg “The Steel Pole” Kielsa (8-0, 3 KO’s), and veteran Arthur “The Bear” Cook 14-4-2, 5 KO’s).
Both Kielsa and Cook met with the media on Wednesday, with each exuding the quiet confidence of true professional fighters.
“I trained harder for this fight than for any other in my career,” said Kielsa, who will be making the first defense of the Canadian title he earned last November with a ten round unanimous decision over Raymond Olubowale.
“I’ve done more sparring. The workouts have been more intense. I’m going to be in great shape.”
For Cook, who has been living and training in Las Vegas for the past five years, the Kielsa fight is a chance to show the world what he is capable of, given a real opportunity.
“I’m always taking fights on short notice, but his time I’ll have the benefit of a proper training camp. I’m ready to shock the world, and take that Canadian title.”
The Rumble at Rama VII undercard also features the Orion debuts of prospects Felix Mercedes and Jason Douglas, as well as the return of Phil Boudreault (5-0), who takes on Hamilton, Ontario’s Justin Fountain (3-1-2, 1 KO).
And, in what promises to be an all-action heavyweight slugfest, powerhouses Demetrice King (14-17, 12 KO’s), and Jerry Butler (7-5-1, 7 KO’s) square off over six rounds.
Tickets for Rumble at Rama VII are $25/$50/$75. Tickets are available in-person at the Casino Rama Box Office, at all TicketMaster locations, by calling (416) 870-8000 and online at www.casinorama.com. Ticket prices do not include applicable taxes or service charges.