Quick ring return for flyweight champ Martinez


Fresh off winning a flyweight world title in action-packed fashion, Julio Cesar Martinez will be back in the ring quickly to defend his belt for the first time Feb. 29.

Martinez will square off with European champion Jay Harris on the undercard of the Mikey Garcia-Jessie Vargas welterweight fight that headlines the DAZN card at the Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys training facility in Frisco, Texas, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced on Friday.

“Julio is just brilliant to watch and the fans in Frisco are in for a real treat as this new Mexican star makes the first defense of his world title,” Hearn said. “Jay Harris has impressed lately, looking great last time out knocking out Paddy Barnes and capturing the Commonwealth and European titles. The styles should gel perfectly here for a real fan-friendly war on what promises to be a huge night of boxing.”

Martinez won the vacant 112-pound belt by knocking out former world titlist Cristofer Rosales in the ninth round of an all-action but fairly one-sided fight Dec. 20 on the Daniel Jacobs-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard in Phoenix.

Mexico’s Martinez (15-1, 12 KOs), who turns 25 on Jan. 27, is thrilled to be getting back into the ring so quickly.

“I’m so happy to be back fighting so soon, especially on such a huge show in Frisco,” Martinez said. “It was a special moment to become world champion, but now I must continue to work hard and defend my title with honor for my people of Mexico.”

Eddy Reynoso, who trains Martinez along with superstar Canelo Alvarez, also likes the idea of a quick turnaround for Martinez.

“It’s perfect to have Julio back fighting so quickly,” Reynoso said. “It’s all part of developing him as a fighter. He has so much potential and I believe he is going to dominate and unify the division in time. First we must overcome this challenge on Feb 29.”

Harris (17-0, 9 KOs), 29, of Wales, who will box outside of the United Kingdom for the first time, won the vacant European title by unanimous decision against Angel Moreno in June and is coming off a fourth-round knockout of Paddy Barnes on Oct. 11.

Now, Harris will have an unexpected shot at a world title.

“I want to say a big thanks to Matchroom and (management company) MTK Global for giving me the opportunity to fight for the WBC world flyweight title in Frisco on such a big event,” Harris said. “Julio is a great young fighter but I am feeling in the form of my life and this gives me the opportunity to shock the world.”

Although the deal is not yet done, Hearn has said he is also working on another world title bout to serve as the co-feature of the card.

That bout would pit junior bantamweight titlist Kal Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs), 30, of England, whose unification bout with Juan Francisco Estrada has been delayed because of Estrada’s hand injury, and former pound-for-pound king and four-division world champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs), 32, of Nicaragua.

Yafai would be making the sixth defense of his 115-pound belt and second in a row — and third in his last four — in the United States.

A knee injury that required surgery kept Gonzalez out of the ring for 15 months but he returned Dec. 23 in Japan and notched a second-round knockout of Diomel Diocos to shake off the rust and put himself in position for another shot at a world title. Gonzalez has won world titles at strawweight, junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight.

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