By Keith Idec
Charles Martin’s comeback officially will begin April 25 in Tunica, Mississippi.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the former IBF heavyweight champion likely will face Byron Polley in a non-televised, 10-round fight at Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel. Martin’s return will take place on the undercard of an FS1 “Toe-To-Toe Tuesdays” telecast that’ll feature former American Olympian Oscar Molina (13-1-1, 10 KOs) and Georgia’s Levan Ghvamichava (17-3-1, 13 KOs) in the 10-round main event.
The 30-year-old Martin (23-1-1, 21 KOs) hasn’t fought since England’s Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) dropped him twice and knocked out Martin in the second round to take the IBF title last April 9 at O2 Arena in London. The 37-year-old Polley, a journeyman from St. Joseph, Missouri, is 30-20-1 (13 KOs, 3 NC).
The left-handed Martin had planned to fight last fall, but was shot in the right forearm during an unsolved August 2 incident in downtown Los Angeles. According to published reports, an unknown assailant shot Martin, who was a passenger in a car, and fled the scene.
Martin underwent emergency surgery to treat his wound, but hasn’t discussed the incident publicly. According to the police report, Martin looked down at a pool of blood and said, “I said to myself, ‘I gotta get outta here. I’m gonna die. I’m gonna bleed to death. I have to pay respect to the cops. They saved my life.’ ”
Martin declined to discuss the shooting, how it has affected him or his upcoming fight with BoxingScene.com.
He is focused on getting back in the ring to begin putting what began as a promising 2016 behind him. Martin has hired Javan Hill to train him at the new Kronk Gym in Detroit.
Hill, a nephew of late legend Emanuel Steward, also trains WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (28-1, 23 KOs) and former WBC super middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell (30-1-1, 24 KOs).
Hill is trying to help a rusty Martin regain the form that enabled him to get into position to fight for the IBF title. Martin won the then-unclaimed championship in January 2016, when Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Glazkov (21-1-1, 13 KOs) suffered a serious knee injury in the third round of their title fight and couldn’t continue at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Martin won the IBF title Tyson Fury relinquished after the embattled Brit upset Wladimir Klitschko by unanimous decision in November 2015 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.