By Keith Idec
Promoters for Charles Martin and Anthony Joshua have come to an agreement for the heavyweight knockout artists to fight April 9 in London.
Martin will make the first defense of his IBF heavyweight championship against Joshua at O2 Arena. The scheduled 12-round bout, officially announced Sunday on Twitter by Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn, will be televised via pay-per-view by SKY ARENA in England and is likely to be broadcast by an undetermined American cable network.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Martin’s representatives were considering other options before negotiations to box Joshua began last weekend with Hearn, whose Matchroom Sport promotes the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist. The 6-6, 250-pound Joshua, a highly touted prospect who has knocked out each of his 15 professional opponents, is ranked No. 4 among the IBF’s heavyweight contenders.
“Charles only wants to fight the best,” said Mike Borao, Martin’s manager. “He has criticized other champions in the past for going after weak opponents, so when the top four guys weren’t available [Tyson Fury, Wladimir Klitschko, Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin], he gave me the marching orders to go after the next toughest opponent and the guy everyone is talking about, Anthony Joshua.”
The 29-year-old Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs), who’s promoted by Warriors Boxing, won the then-unclaimed IBF title by third-round technical knockout against Vyacheslav Glazkov (21-1-1, 13 KOs) on Jan. 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The win was bittersweet for Martin, though, because a serious knee injury prevented Glazkov from continuing in by far the biggest fight of Martin’s three-year pro career.
Glazkov wants a rematch, but the Ukrainian contender tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He also suffered additional damage that required surgery and should prevent him from fighting until late this year at the earliest.
Joshua, 26, stopped previously undefeated Dillian Whyte (16-1, 13 KOs) in the seventh round of his last fight, Dec. 12 at O2 Arena. While Martin isn’t completely proven at the championship level, the West Hollywood, California resident is considered a significant step up in competition for Joshua.
Martin and Joshua have combined to knock out 92 percent of their opponents, but Borao believes Martin will halt Joshua’s knockout streak and deal the promising contender his first professional defeat.
“There’s no question Charles will win,” Borao said. “I don’t think Joshua can prepare for a 6-5, 250-pound, athletic, power-punching southpaw in eight weeks. I just don’t think it’s possible. Joshua will discover early on that it looks a lot easier to beat Charles outside the ring than it is inside.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.