Joshua Gets Title Shot – Sunday afternoon 2/14/16 heavyweight contender Anthony Joshua tweeted that he’ll be challenging IBF title holder Charles Martin at the O2 arena in London on April 9th. The 6-foot-6 245-pound Joshua is ranked second by the WBC, second by the WBO, 12th by the WBA and fourth by the IBF, yet he’s only fought 32 rounds as a pro. On top of that he’s viewed by some as being the best heavyweight prospect in the last decade.
Joshua is 26 years old. A 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, he is 15-0 (15) as a pro. He’s a good looking, well-built fighter who appears to have finishing power in both hands. When he takes his robe off before moving about in the ring, he looks like the heavyweight champion of the world. In his last fight he knocked out former kick boxer Dillian Whyte 16-1 (13) in the seventh round. However, he was dinged pretty good and hurt in the second round. He also fought very stiff and rigid for a majority of the bout. He was easy to hit and at times was a sitting duck for Whyte’s telegraphed left-hooks.
It’s an understatement to say Joshua is untested at the world class level, but luckily for him, Charles Martin 23-0-1 (21), who must be seen as the path of least resistance to the title, may be even less battle-tested than Joshua. Anthony’s punching power has led many in his native Britain to see him as being the next Lennox Lewis. However, Lewis didn’t fully flower as a fighter until he was in his early to mid-thirties. So Anthony is early on in the maturation process at the world class level.
As for the 29 year old, 6-foot-5 240 pound Martin of Carson California, he’s slightly more experienced than Joshua but hasn’t looked as impressive along the way. He was underwhelming when he claimed the vacant IBF title on January 16th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Martin stopped then-undefeated contender Vyacheslav “Czar” Glazkov in the third round. Glazkov went down twice via exchanging with Martin but the first was ruled a slip and it looked as though he injured himself going down. When they resumed fighting, Glazkov further injured his knee while hitting Martin with a body shot. He fell backwards and his right leg gave out as he rolled over face first. It was ruled a knockdown even though Martin hadn’t landed a punch. Glazkov beat the count but due to his injured leg he couldn’t continue. Glazkov was later diagnosed with a completely torn ACL, a dislocated knee, a torn medial meniscus and sprains of his MCL and LCL.
Joshua Gets Title Shot After Fighting 32 rounds As A Pro
Joshua, despite only fighting 15 times as a pro may be the most talked about up and coming heavyweight on the scene. On paper he and Martin look like an even match. They are close in height and weight and there isn’t much to distinguish them when it comes to who they’ve fought and defeated, but that’s where the similarity ends. Without the luxury of having them been in the ring with any fighter who posed a serious threat, we have to rely on something that can be misleading, and that’s the eye test. And going by what we’ve seen of both fighters, Joshua has better form, is a bigger puncher with both hands, and on the outside seems more purposeful and sure of himself in the ring.
Anthony is no doubt the fighter who is perceived as having the brighter future. Because of his looks and demeanor, Joshua surely makes for the bigger and better match ups down the road with the likes of Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and David Haye. Martin is seen more like a fighter who was at the right place at the perfect time and he ended up winning a piece of the heavyweight title. But he doesn’t look like the fighter who can rejuvenate interest in the division the way Joshua might if he turns out to be the real deal, which is still speculation. Martin is not a sure bet or even money to beat any heavyweight in the top-10. He’ll be an underdog against Joshua and losing to him won’t ruin his future. Conversely, if he were to beat Joshua, he’d make a ton of money fighting him in a rematch in the U.K. So the risk is worth it for Martin.
Fighting Martin is the perfect opportunity even after only 32 rounds of professional experience for Joshua. Anthony holds every conceivable advantage over Martin one fighter could over another, and if he gets the IBF title he’ll be the blue chip fighter in the division. He’ll have the latitude of making a couple of easy defenses while the interest builds for him fighting ascending heavyweights the likes of Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and Luis Ortiz.
Joshua has sure garnered a lot of attention for a fighter with only 15 fights and 32-rounds of experience under his belt. But that’s more of a testament to owning a Gold Medal, a physical presence and perceived fight altering power in both hands. Fighters like that, if they end up being authentically that good, don’t stroll into boxing gyms around the world every day.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
Check out this video about the heavyweight division at The Boxing Channel