He may have had the vacant IBF strap handed to him on a plate, but Charles Martin certainly feels like a superstar. The American was crowned heavyweight champion of the world last month, after the Ukrainian Vyacheslav Glazkov was forced to retire with a knee injury in the third round. Many argue he is the weakest of the current crop of heavyweight champions, given his lack of experience, underwhelming CV and relatively small reputation.
Then, the announcement arrived. A deal was reached between Eddie Hearn and Al Haymon, meaning Charles Martin will be travelling to London to face Anthony Joshua on the 9th of April. Joshua will be crowned the new champion, Martin will get his payday. End of script, yes? Well, not quite…
Guilty as charged – I, as well as others, initially felt like this fight had only one winner – a British one. I didn’t even entertain the possibility of Charles Martin coming across the pond to conquer – until I spoke to him. The newly-crowned heavyweight king sat down with me for BoxingNewsTV, and made it abundantly clear it was always his intention to travel to London:
“I always thought ‘we’ll come over here, yep’. We had the fight in mind, and I said ‘I want Anthony Joshua, and I’m going over there to fight him’. He isn’t coming over to America. We ain’t going to fight in Vegas. This is where the boxing crowd is! This is where you need to be. This is where I want to be when I knock him out and steal his fans.
“I know it’s going to be a big arena, but I’ve fought at Madison Square Garden before. That was a big crowd – I embraced it, and I’ve learned to love it. That’s my home. That’s where all the people are, and I like to perform there. I don’t like performing in a small clubhouse, I like the big, massive crowds. That’s where I feel most at home at.”
Before the Martin fight was made, Eddie Hearn was struggling terribly to get an opponent for Anthony Joshua, with names such as Dereck Chisora and Bermane Stiverne turning down big-money offers. It seemed nobody felt they had the beating of the Brit, until Charles Martin stepped up. The American had received other offers, but the lure of stealing Joshua’s fans proved too tempting:
“There were other offers on the table. We had Chris Arreola, Dominic Breazeale – but those are one-sided fights. Those guys are tailor-made. They’ll stand in front of me, and I’ll blast them out.
“Those weren’t the fights I wanted. I wanted Joshua because he has a big name, a lot of following, and I want his following. I want what he has. He don’t need it, I want it, and I’m going to take it.
“He’s too smart for his own good. That’s the weakness I see in him. A lot of guys hit rock-bottom being too smart for their own good in this sport.”
Though aware of the monumental task he faces, Martin was more than prepared to discuss the future beyond Anthony Joshua. When asked who (if he holds onto his belt) will be next to get a shot, he didn’t even hesitate.
“…Deontay Wilder?”, I added.
“Listen, I want to unify and get all the belts. It’s very possible for the summer. Let’s do it for the boxing world.”
Whether Charles Martin has any sort of chance in the ring with Anthony Joshua or not, you have to admire his ambition. He’s coming to the lion’s den (albeit for a rather large sum of money), and he’s coming to win. The 9th of April should be a cracker for world boxing.