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Nathan Martinez & Ricky de los Santos prepare for featherweight war at Mohegan Sun Arena


Tuesday, January 23, 2024 - War is in the air as Nathan Martinez and Ricky de los Santos prepare to battle for the WBC USA Silver Championship.

UNCASVILLE, CT – New England's top featherweights collide at 'Winter Brawl 2024' when Nathan Martinez (8-2, 2 KOs) battles Ricky de los Santos (11-1, 3 KOs) for the vacant WBC USA Silver featherweight championship at Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday, February 3.

Winter Brawl 2024 tickets, starting at $67, are on sale now at CESfights.comTicketmaster or the Mohegan Sun Box office.

This contest is far and away the biggest fight of each pugilists’ respective career.  For the first time, each fighter will be entering the ring with a professional title on the line and bragging rights as to who is the best featherweight prospect in New England.  Both guys also realize that the WBC Silver title is a steppingstone to enter the world rankings with the hopes of world title opportunities down the line. 

"It means everything to me," says Martinez of the prospect of picking up his first pro title.  "The WBC Silver title will be my first step to a world title.  If I win this fight, it’ll open up a lot of doors.  It’ll mean a lot for me and I’m excited for it."

Boxing is in Martinez’s DNA. The New Britain, CT native followed his older brother into boxing when he was 11 years old and is trained by his father Jose at the Martinez Boxing Club. 

"My uncle had his own boxing gym in the basement of his house," recalls Martinez.  "My older brother was boxing, and I played football and baseball.  My Dad would pick me up from practice and take me to the gym, and I would watch my brother train.  One day I decided to try boxing myself.  We started training and it only took me a month or so before I had my first amateur fight."

After 85 amateur fights that included Nationals, Golden Gloves, and Jr. Olympics tournaments, Nathan turned pro in 2018.  He won his first 6 pro bouts before suffering a setback against Yeuri Andajar in 2019.

The 24-year-old is 2-1 since that defeat, his only other loss coming via technical decision when a close bout against Jayron Lopez was stopped due to a cut Martinez suffered from an accidental headbutt.  

Despite turning pro only a year before Martinez, Ricky de los Santos is 10 years older. Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, de los Santos took up boxing at 21 and after compiling a record of 12-1 and winning the New England Golden Gloves, he decided to go pro. 

Assembling a training team consisting of head coach Orlando Valles, his father, Rolando de los Santos, his uncle Jose Castro, Mike Veloz (trainer of Demetrius Andrade) and strength and conditioning coach Gail Bolden, Ricky reeled off 10 consecutive wins before suffering a TKO loss to the hard-hitting Yeison Vargas in 2022.

"That was a big learning experience for me," admits de los Santos.  "I was winning that fight easily.  I hurt him and moved forward, and then he caught me with a looping shot.  I had never been in that position before.  It was the end of the round and I didn’t think the fight should’ve been stopped, but it is what it is.  We learn from it and here we are now."  

Ricky bounced back from that defeat last October, needing only 2 rounds to dispatch Jeno Tonte at the Fall River PAL.  The win propelled the half-Dominican, half-Puerto Rican fighter to the fight on February 3rd.  

As if fighting for a WBC USA Silver title wasn’t enough motivation, de los Santos is doubly inspired by the birth of his son on January 15th.  It’s his fifth child and first boy, and the fighter couldn’t be happier.

"It definitely motivates me to start off the year having my boy and reaching my goal of winning a title," says de los Santos.  "This is another step towards what I want to do in this game.  I’m looking for better things after this, but one step at a time."

Looking at the keys to victory for each man, at 5’7, de los Santos will enjoy a height and reach advantage over the 5’4 Martinez.  However, those are statistics that each pugilist will look to exploit.

"He’s a little taller, so I’ll work the body and put pressure on him," says Martinez.  "From the video I’ve seen on him, he doesn’t do so well when you come forward and pressure him."

For his part, de los Santos feels that he will have too much firepower for Martinez to handle.

"I don’t really care what he comes with," says a confident de los Santos.  "I’m going to exploit whatever mistakes he makes and I’ll adjust as I need to, but I think it’s going to be him having to adjust to what I’m bringing. I think I’m too fast, too strong, and too slick for him."

One of the key goals of both fighters is to be more active in 2024.  While Martinez has fought 3 times since 2020, de los Santos has been equally inactive in that time span.  It’s something that they each want to address.

"I want to be active," says an adamant de los Santos.  "I’d like 4 to 5 fights this year, easy.  I want to be able to contend for one of these world titles by 2025."

"This year I plan on fighting every 3 to 4 months," agrees Martinez.  "I’m not in a rush for a world title just yet, but the WBC Silver title is the first steppingstone and when the time comes, I’ll be ready."  

On February 3rd, the world will find out which man will be the steppingstone in the way of the other’s world title aspirations.

For more information, follow CES Boxing on FacebookInstagram and Twitter at @CESBOXING.


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