Charles Martin hopes his solid showing on short notice against Jared Anderson leads to another meaningful opportunity in his next fight.
The former IBF heavyweight champion became the first professional opponent to take the vaunted Anderson the distance Saturday night. Anderson (15-0, 14 KOs) dropped Martin late in the third round, but a resilient Martin got up and remained dangerous right up until the final bell sounded to end a 10-round main event ESPN aired from Huntington Center in Anderson’s hometown of Toledo, Ohio.
Martin (29-4-1, 26 KOs) seemed to buzz Anderson in both the fifth and 10th rounds, but Anderson comfortably beat him on all three scorecards to remain undefeated (99-90, 99-90, 99-91).
“The old me could have never fought Jared Anderson on 11 days’ notice,” Martin told BoxingScene.com. “I have a whole different mindset now. Win, lose or draw, I just wanna fight the best and make entertaining fights. If [Deontay] Wilder and [Andy] Ruiz can’t make a deal, I’d fight either of those guys. I also heard Efe Ajagba and Lenier Pero are possibilities. If not, I’ll take on another young prospect that no one wants to fight.”
The 37-year-old southpaw plans to return to the gym soon, so that Martin is in peak physical condition if the St. Louis native is offered another high-profile opportunity, even if it’s on short notice.
Like Anderson, Nigeria’s Ajagba (17-1, 13 KOs) has a promotional contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. The Cuban-born Pero (9-0, 6 KOs) is affiliated with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, as is Martin.
“I don’t have any more time to waste,” Martin said. “I wanna fight in another big fight before the end of this year. I’ve always been my own worst enemy. I’d be off six to 12 months, roll off the sofa, take a fight and train for four or five weeks. It took me a long time to realize you can’t do that and be the best. Now I live in the gym, and hopefully it showed.
“Next time you see me, I’ll have a proper training camp and be even better. When I look back on my career, I don’t wanna have any regrets about what could have been. I just hope people realize it’s not only about money for me anymore. I wanna be active and fight the best before I retire.”
However unlikely it might be, Martin, more than anything, wants a shot at redeeming himself against Anthony Joshua. The then-unbeaten British superstar dropped Martin twice and knocked him out in the second round to win the IBF belt from him in April 2016 at O2 Arena in London.
The nature of that loss to Joshua has haunted Martin for seven years, but Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) is headed toward a different rematch August 12 at O2 Arena, a second fight versus rival Dillian Whyte (29-3, 19 KOs).
“I wanna fight Anthony Joshua so bad that I will donate my entire purse to a charity if he beats me,” Martin said. “I fought AJ with a fractured rib, and it was the worst mistake of my life. I’ve taken sh!t for it since that day. He’ll never get back in the ring with me. He knows he got me at my worst.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.