Norfolk’s Iain Martell ready to shine on the big stage

Iain Martell in action during his win over Ossie Jervier Picture: Mark Hewlett

Iain Martell in action during his win over Ossie Jervier Picture: Mark Hewlett - Credit: Archant

Iain Martell is promising all-out attack on Saturday night as he attempts to join a small but select band of Norfolk boxers.

Martell steps into the ring against Londoner Jose Lopes, with the Southern Area cruiserweight title at stake.

Sam Sexton and Jon Thaxton are the only other Norfolk fighters to have worn a Southern Area belt in modern times, and Martell is determined to make it a hat-trick.

'It all become real now,' said the 29-year-old from Marsham. 'This is the first title on the ladder of British boxing. The Southern Area is the biggest area title in the country, then the English and the British. But it is all so real now, the emotions are high, it is a beautiful thing.'

Martell takes an unbeaten eight-fight record into the ring, having moved to the pro boxing ranks in the summer of 2017, after a successful MMA career, while his opponent has nine wins and two defeats - but has fought just once since November 2017. Will ring rust come into play?

Iain Martell at the gym Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Iain Martell at the gym Picture: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

Martell said: 'He has had six rounds in the last two and a half years and I have had eight fights, so inactivity will be another factor that will put him in bad stead most definitely.

'We have talked about this for two and a half years now since I turned pro. I have looked forward to a good opportunity, a good opponent, a good fight and for a title such as the Southern Area, I couldn't ask for more.'

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The two protagonists do have a shared opponent, Ossie Jervier, who beat Lopes in March 2017 but was beaten on points by Martell last summer.

'We know a little bit,' he said. 'I have looked at him, watched half a fight - I am not really interested in him at all to be honest. I am just going to go out there and be me - he will get on his bike and he will run. That is his only way to survive, let alone win. He will run, he will move, he will try and box, but I will shut him down, I will use my jab, I will get to his body, I will hurt him, I will slow him down and eventually I will stop him.'

Martell has rarely toyed with opponents: his first two fights ended with broken hands, such was the ferocity of his power, and if the chance of an early end arises tonight, he will take it.

'We can't toy with people,' he said. 'This is the fight game. I like to think I am a nice fella and I can speak properly, but Saturday night, business is business and I am out there to do a job. I am not out there to make friends or have any niceties about this. I am out there to do a job on this man and that is exactly what I will do.'

It will be Martell's first appearance at York Hall - Lopes has been there for 10 of his 11 fights.

'It is the home of British boxing, what a fantastic venue, it is a privilege to fight there,' added Martell. 'The fact that he fought has there numerous times means nothing and if anything it is a positive because it will give him confidence, and confidence will get him knocked out.

'There can be no doubts, no negotiations as to what happens in there because if you do have doubts or any negatives or any questions then you will fall from the path. We have been on this for a long time now and we are focused and committed and I am looking forward to what happens on Saturday.

'I have sold over 150 tickets and I want to thank everyone who has spent their hard-earned money, all my sponsors who have kept me here in the gym and Graham (Everett) and my team. I can't wait.'

Trainer Everett has been involved in Martell's boxing career from day one, although the relationship extends further back than that.

'It is a great event for Iain and it is good for all of us, good for the city,' said Everett. 'It shows every up-and-coming boxer what can be achieved in a short space of time.

'The simple fact is if you win an Area title you then become top 10 in the country which means you can very easily get an English and a British title fight. Win a British title fight you can get a European title fight and then anything can happen after that. That is how I always explain it to boxers - people say will he be a world champion and I say, if he wins a British title things will happen. This is the start of it. The Southern Area is a big area, it is the biggest, the most prestigious, the most difficult to win and this is a really good division, with some good cruiserweights in the area and I am really looking forward to Iain making his mark.'