By Jake Donovan
Here’s all you need to know about Xavier Martinez’s view on competition: if you fight for a living, he wants to outdo you every time he steps into the ring.
“I thrive off of competition; just drives me to do better,” Martinez (13-0, 9KOs) confessed to BoxingScene.com ahead of his upcoming Showtime-televised clash with John Vincent Moralde this Friday at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada. “It was tougher to find that edge earlier in my career because I wasn’t fighting guys as good.
“Now that the competition is getting better, I just keep working even harder to win.”
It’s a formula that so far as worked to perfection for the 21-year old super featherweight prospect from Sacramento, Calif. Friday’s placement as the co-feature of a ShoBox tripleheader is proof positive, as he is accompanied by fellow Mayweather Promotions prospects Angelo Leo (16-0, 8KOs) and Andres Cortes (10-0, 6KOs) in separate bouts.
Leo headlines the show versus Philippines’ Neil John Tabanao (17-4, 11KOs), while Cortes—a former amateur standout—faces Baltimore’s Jahmar Dyer in the televised opener.
Martinez’s co-feature slot comes versus Philippines’ Moralde (21-2, 11KOs), whose lone two losses have come versus southpaws—a Dec. ’17 knockout loss to Toka Khan-Clary a 10-round decision defeat to Jamel Herring last September on ESPN.
In addition to being a desired step up in competition, the rising prospect is now met with the challenge of outperforming his predecessors.
“We know he’s tough, and I want tough fights,” Martinez notes. “He’s been in there with Jamel Herring before, with (Khan-Clary). He’s only lost to southpaws before. But I don’t want to just be the first (orthodox) fighter to beat him, I want to show that I’m better than anyone he’s faced before.”
That same fighting spirit propelled Martinez to a one-sided 6th round technical knockout win over Oscar Bravo last September. Bravo had never been stopped through 30 fights to that point and was down only once before in his career, in a decision loss to former title challenger Diego Magdaleno two years prior.
“I admit, that was one of my main goals, to be the first to stop him,” Martinez confesses. “I saw who he went the distance with, and knew that I could do something against a tough opponent that nobody else had done before.”
With the increase in competition has come a different side of Martinez, who has scored five straight stoppage wins heading into Friday’s co-feature attraction. It’s a welcomed reminder to why he turned pro at 17—heading to Tijuana to be able to fight in the pro ranks prior to his 18th birthday—and also why he joined the Mayweather Promotions stable in 2016.
Martinez reminded the promotional staff as much during a brief falling out, which only led to a minimal career stall but more importantly serving as a course corrector in ensuring that company CEO Leonard Ellerbe and founder/future Hall of Fame boxing legend Floyd Mayweather share his future vision. In fact, it led directly to his being matched with Bravo and now—two fights later—back on TV.
“Floyd and Leonard have been great,” Martinez insists. “We had some issues before, but once that got resolved, it’s been all good. Now I am real satisfied with the way my career is moving, I’m getting where I need to be.”
On Friday, he will be back in the ring in Las Vegas where his current knockout streak began. By night’s end, his plan isn’t just victory but that his name is the first out of the collective mouths of viewers and fans in attendance as he strives to advance from prospect to contender all the way to reigning world champion in the next year or so.
“Even though they are my stablemates, yeah I want to steal the show from Leo and Cortes,” Martinez readily admits. “We’re all around the same weight, so why not make that a competition too. That’s how fighters become stars.
“Boxing today, it’s just turned into this giant money pit. At the end of the day, it’s supposed to be about building a legacy. I want both—become a world champion and deliver the performances that generate big money. My competitiveness and wanting to do it better than anyone else before me, that’s the legacy I want to leave behind.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox