Even before having to twice climb off the canvas, Xavier Martinez sensed he was in for the toughest fight of his life in his last ring appearance.
When all was said and done, the only thing on his mind was moving on to the next significant challenge in his career.
That moment comes this weekend, as Martinez (16-0, 10KOs) faces former three-time title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (33-4-2, 21KOs). The 12-round junior lightweight title eliminator serves as part of a televised tripleheader, airing live on Showtime this Saturday from war-friendly Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Martinez fights for the first time since a 12-round win over former secondary featherweight titlist Claudio Marrero. The win required the 23-year-old Sacramento native to recover from a pair of 8th round knockdowns to preserve his unblemished record.
Nights like that will come as the competition level continues to increase, a mindset that Martinez has already applied to the next one in line.
“I just care about winning,” Martinez told BoxingScene.com. “It can’t always be about getting the knockout. Yes, it will be nice to get the knockout. Burgos has never been stopped. It would be great to be the first.
“If I can just go in there and beat the sh!t out of him for 12 rounds, that’s good enough.”
It was perhaps a lesson that Martinez was reminded of following his last encounter. The unbeaten rising contender stopped his last seven opponents, though also entered the fight following an 11-month layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, he found a way to persevere. The hope on Martinez’s end was that a title fight would be next, though he plans to use the wait time to further enhance his credentials and prove to be ready for such a stage.
“My last fight, I could have done better,” admits Martinez. “It wasn’t the best performance. I came off of a year-long layoff against a former champion. But I found a way to get the win. That was a big steppingstone for me.
“For this fight, once I go in there and do my job, I truly believe I deserve a title shot.”
The title eliminator comes in supporting capacity to a junior featherweight title unification bout between two-division and reigning WBC titlist Luis Nery (31-0, 24KOs) and secondary WBA titlist Brandon Figueroa (21-0-1, 16KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox