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Bascome ready to rumble

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The final staredown: Nikki Bascome, right, sizes up David Martínez for the last time at the weigh-in at the Fairmont Southampton before they lock horns tonight for the IBA International Welterweight Championship. Bascome is in action for the first time since suffering a brutal knockout defeat 12 months ago (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Nikki Bascome has vowed to “put on a show” when he steps between the ropes to face Mexican David Martínez for the vacant IBA international welterweight title at Fairmont Southampton tonight.

The two orthodox fighters will go toe to toe during the scheduled eight-round bout which is the main event of the “Redemption” fight card taking place in the Poinciana Ballroom.

“It feels good to be back home and I’m going to put on a show,” Bascome declared at last night’s weigh-in.

“I have been training all year round. I feel relaxed and I’m just concentrating on what I have to do.”

The 28-year-old is returning to the ring for the first time since his brutal knockout defeat by Portugal’s Fábio Costa at the same venue a year ago, the first loss of his professional career.

Shortly after losing his unbeaten record, Bascome teamed up with trainer Jeff Mayweather, the uncle of Floyd, after splitting with his long-time coach, the late Allan “Forty” Rego.

Mayweather will be in Bascome’s corner along with former local middleweight Troy Darrell who retired from professional boxing in 1991 with an impressive record of 26-3, including 22 knockouts.

“It does give me confidence having those two in my corner,” Bascome added. “I’ll listen and try to do the best things they tell me.

“Troy is a workhorse and I can see why he was rated No 5 in the world. He has given me a lot of knowledge, made me work hard and I’m just listening and using his advice the best way I can.”

Although the IBA is not one of the four major boxing organisations, there have been several notable champions including Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones Jr, Shane Mosley, as well as Bermuda women’s boxer Teresa Perozzi. With 15 of their 17 weight divisions vacant of champions, the recently relaunched IBA offered the fight to Bascome’s promoters.

“[Winning a title] is something I’ve always dreamt of,” Bascome, whose record stands at 6-1, said. “I’m trying not to focus on the belt too much. I’m just focusing on winning the fight.”

Bascome tipped the scale at last night’s weigh-in at 143 pounds, four pounds lighter than the more experienced Martínez, whose record stands at 12-3.

When asked whether he has any concerns over the weight disadvantage, Bascome said: “We have to get a new scale at the gym, I was 146 before I came on that scale. It’s a few pounds off.

“It it is what it is and I know I’m the naturally smaller man going into tomorrow night.

“But to be honest, I’m not focusing on all that. It’s just another day and I’m just going to go in and give it my best. I’m just going to do what I do best and just box.”

The bout will be Martínez’s third in ten months, with his previous two ending in split decision victories over Carlos Encinas and Victor Herrera.

Like his opponent Bascome, the 25-year-old is up for the challenge and fully understands the magnitude of what is at stake.

“It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m going to take advantage of it,” Martínez said.

“This is a very big fight for me because this is the very first championship title I’m going to fight for and winning this fight is another story for me.

“Nikki is a very good fighter, but I am ready. If he wants to go the short or long distance I’m ready and I think there is more pressure on Nikki.

“He lost here last time and so I think there’s a lot of pressure for him.”

Tonight’s title bout will be officiated by world renowned referee Steve Smoger, of the United States, who has refereed in more than 200 title bouts and officiated in more US states and countries than any other boxing referee in the history of the sport.

Oscar Lightbourne, centre, the Bermuda Boxing Federation commissioner, holds what both Nikki Bascome, right, and David Martínez are desperate to claim (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Team Bascome: Jeff Mayweather, left, and Bermuda’s Troy Darrell bring plenty of professional experience in the corner of Nikki Bascome (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Nikki Bascome weighs in at 143 pounds (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
David Martínez weighs in at 147 pounds (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)