Big men with big power slug it out for a big prize
Few things in sports are as physically and mentally grueling as the climb to the top of boxing’s heavyweight division. Few things are also more gratifying than completing that climb.
So it’s understandable that those fighters who make it to the heavyweight mountaintop are more inclined to subsequently challenge themselves against lesser competition, rather than an opponent skilled enough to send the champ tumbling down said mountain.
Then there’s Charles Martin, a boxing contrarian if there ever was one.
A 29-year-old who was born in St. Louis and now lives in Southern California, Martin captured his first world title on January 16 when he stopped Vyacheslav Glazkov, an unbeaten Ukranian who was unable to continue after seriously injuring his right knee in Round 3.
Instead of taking a long respite and enjoying his new life as a heavyweight champ, Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs) wasted little time in agreeing to his first title defense—not just against any opponent, mind you, but an extremely dangerous one. Not only that, but the champ agreed to fight on the challenger’s home turf.
And so it is that Martin, less than four months after dispatching Glazkov, will head across the pound April 9 and meet fellow undefeated knockout artist Anthony Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs) in a scheduled 12-rounder at the O2 Arena in London, not far from Joshua’s lifelong home of Watford, Hertfordshire, in the U.K.
A 26-year-old who won gold at the 2012 London Olympics, Joshua is less than three years removed from his professional debut. He’s also someone who finished off each of his first 14 opponents inside of three rounds.
“I want to fight the biggest names,” Martin says. “He’s a gold medalist, his name is in everybody’s mouth—‘Anthony Joshua this, Anthony Joshua that. He’s the best, he’s the best.’ So that’s why I called him out.
“I’m not here to fight bums that everybody already knows I can beat and the odds are all hella one-sided. I’m here to fight the best.”
While Joshua figures to be Martin’s stiffest test to date, the opposite is also very true. Joshua’s handlers have brought him along carefully—in fact, he’s never once fought outside of the U.K.—and although his last two fights were against undefeated opponents, neither were of Martin’s caliber.
Martin, who turned pro in October 2012, is riding a string of 13 consecutive stoppage victories, with six of the last seven coming in the third round or sooner. For his career, Martin has gone past four rounds just three times, and that includes a 10th-round knockout.
Joshua, meanwhile, is coming off the longest fight of his career, as he needed seven rounds to put away Dillian Whyte on December 12.
In addition to their penchant for rapidly turning the lights out on their opponents, Martin and Joshua share other characteristics: both are walking redwoods—the 6-foot-5 Martin sports an 80-inch reach, while the 6-6 Joshua has an 82-inch wingspan—and both have come in at roughly 245 pounds in their last handful of fights.