Jesus ‘Panterita’ Martinez: “I want to make history and I don’t want to be one of the best, but the best to ever do it.” 

Jesus Martinez: “I want to make history and I don’t only want to be one of the best, but the best to ever do it.” 

By Gary Kittilsen

Former World Champions Joe Calzaghe and Darren Barker are again throwing their hats into the boxing ring with the announcement of the launch of their management group, International Sports Group (ISG).

The pair wasted no time making a major splash in the US, signing 14x amateur US National champion Jesus “Panterita” Martinez of Del Rio, Texas.

Martinez compiled an amateur record of 137-9 and has won every conceivable tournament in the US and only recently went viral when he scored a vicious knockout in the opening rounds of the USA Boxing national championships in Shreveport, Louisiana, last month.

Martinez talked about how big this moment is for him saying he is “excited, pumped up… I’ve been overwhelmed with the electricity and adrenaline.” To be signed by Calzaghe, who he has long looked up to and idolised as well as another world champion in Barker.

Martinez described it as “surreal to be signed by my idols. I got to talk to them and they’re amazing, lovely people. I trust them, I know they are going to guide me to a good career. They’ve been through it all.” The teenager who is beaming with confidence went on to add: “It’s only up from here, you will be seeing me as a multiple world champion.”  

With the power and skills that Martinez possesses it certainly seems reasonable. One-punch knockouts are uncommon in the amateur game but because of his incredible two-fisted power, Martinez scored them fairly regularly throughout his amateur career, saying his power is “God-given” and it “doesn’t surprise me, I see it in the gym every day. What does surprise me is the way it happens.” 

The only thing that rivals Marinez’s punching power is his tireless work ethic. Known equally for his incredible power as well as his relentless work ethic he is consistently complimented and recognised for being the hardest worker in any gym.

The Texan says his relentless work ethic comes from his passion for the sport:

“I come from a boxing family, my uncles, my dad, my grandpa, my cousins, everyone boxed. Our dream always was to become a world champion. I want to make everyone proud. I also want to achieve my dream and be the best who has ever done it.”

The young prospect stays humble, knowing lots of people have targeted him and want to beat him because of his countless accolades. This gives the youngster extra motivation:

“Even though I had God-given talent I know there are kids who have my head as their target. They are training to beat me and if I slip and stop training hard or I get distracted they’re gonna be right on my head. So I can’t slip up. I have to be focused.”

It’s that rare combination of skills, power, and focus combined with his humility that separates Martinez from the competition. He knows how blessed he is to have the special and unique gifts he posses and he does not take his success to this point for granted saying:

“All of the [amateur] titles are meaningful and amazing to me. I can’t put one over the other. It’s an amazing journey. You have to win states, regionals, and then you go to nationals. All of them are all special to me. Just one national title is amazing and I’ve been blessed to have won 14.”

He switches his goals to the professional ranks now and is well guided by the pair of former world champions. Much like Calzaghe, Martinez plans on being a multi-division world champ stating:

“I think by like 21, 22 I want to have my first world title and then over the years gain my other world titles. I want to be a five or six-division world champion. I want to make history and I don’t only want to be one of the best, but the best to ever do it.” 

In addition to being a multi-division world champion, Martinez talks about becoming the first world title winner from his hometown of Del Rio, a boxing-crazed, mid-size border town of about 30-40,000 people.

When asked about being the first world champion from the beloved hometown, he describes how important that is to him:

“It would just mean the world to me, to win a world title, and they announce me being from Del Rio. It would mean the world to me. That’s my birthplace, I grew up here in Del Rio. It would mean everything to me.”

The path to bringing multiple world titles to his hometown and being the greatest likely starts in April:

“Right now, April is looking good. Mid-April or the end of April, but fingers crossed that pulls through. It’s looking good. By April I should be 1-0.” 

Despite being just 17, he will likely be moved along the ranks very quickly. Given his deep amateur pedigree, his considerable power, skills, and work ethic, and being guided by two legends of the ring, the fighter from Del Rio, Texas certainly has everything lined up to meet his lofty goals in the very near future. 

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