Martinez annexed the IBF junior featherweight title in August with a sixth round knock out victory over Jonathan Romero. This was after acclaimed WBO champion Nonito Donaire relinquished the IBF title he had won in a unification bout with Mathebula.
The South African put up a courageous, but back-to-the-wall performance against a fighter ranked the fifth-best pound-for-pound boxer in the world by Ring Magazine. He had his jaw broken halfway through the 12-round bout.
Donaire then gave up the IBF title in order to make a bid to add the WBA title to his WBO crown in another publicised unification fight. However, he ended up without a title of any sort when he was outpointed by legendary Cuban-born Guillermo Rigondeaux.
After a five-month lay-off recovering from his broken jaw, Mathebula, 34, repeated an earlier convincing win over Takalani Ndlovu, from whom he took the IBF title in the first place. Mathebula is nicknamed “The Mongoose” for his ability to upset and devour more vaunted opponents.
The repeat win over Ndlovu in March has now earned Mathebula a crack at Martinez’s title in a mandatory title defence, but he will be without trainer Nick Durandt, who guided him to the IBF junior featherweight title in the first place.
“Jeffrey was evasive about renewing our partnership,” said Durandt.
“I’m not interested in boxers who are not fully committed to me. I wish him luck wherever he goes, but he might come to realise he has taken a step in the wrong direction.”
BSP promoter Branco Milenkovic, who has negotiated many of Mathebula’s fights, is recovering from major stomach surgery and expects to tie up the loose ends for the Martinez fight when he is back in action.