Ten months ago, super flyweight contender Jose Martinez was on the verge of a world title shot. All he needed to do was defeat the only man Martinez had yet to beat as a pro: Alejandro Santiago Barrios.
The two fought in Martinez’s home country of Puerto Rico in the main event of a boxing card televised on ESPN2. Everything was set for Martinez to emerge is the next must-see contender, but just like with the first fight against Barrios in 2018, it ended in a draw. Barrios would get a chance to fight for a title months later against Jerwin Ancajas while Martinez had to wait before he knew anything about his world title prospects.
Almost a year later and Martinez still has yet to fight for a title, but Martinez could fix that with his next fight. Martinez will fight Aston Palicte in a title eliminator for the WBO super flyweight title in Alpine, California. Given that he was supposed to be the one next in line to fight for a world title and not Barrios, Martinez wants to finally get the monkey off his back and live up to his potential.
“I got really motivated after that fight against Alejandro and I just thought to myself, ‘Man, I’m at that world class level too.’ Some people thought I beat Alejandro and some people thought he beat me, but I know I’m at least at Ancajas’ level if he tied against Alejandro. I think that draw lit a fire under me to go after the title and now I’m ready to fight for that title,” Martinez told Fightful.
For a while, Martinez was disappointed with not getting the win over Barrios, but understood how tough that fight was and believes that if Barrios could fight a world champion to a draw, then Martinez isn’t that far off from world title contention as well.
“That was a really tough fight. Alejandro came in really prepared for that fight. He was aggressive and knew how to defend himself well around the ring. He tied against Jerwin Ancajas and I told people that I fought a world class opponent that night and I know I’m at least at his level,” Martinez said.
The winner of the title eliminator becomes the mandatory challenger for Donnie Nietes’ WBO title. Nietes recently won the title on December 31 on a boxing card in Macau, China when he defeated Kazuto Ioka. Regarding a potential fight for the title, Martinez said he had no problem going up against Nietes and his choice of opponent ultimately doesn’t matter.
“That was a really good fight [between Nietes and Ioka]. Nietes and Ioka are really good fighters and it didn’t matter which of them I faced. I was prepared for either boxer. I was paying a lot of attention to that fight and I hope that in April I can fight for the belt [if I beat Palicte],” Martinez said.
The fight between Martinez and Palicte is set to headline a three-fight boxing card to be streamed on UFC Fight Pass and is the first such event in a new broadcast deal between Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions and UFC.
Palicte vs. Martinez is taking place on January 31 at the Viejas Casino and Resort in Alpine, California.