By Keith Idec
Charles Martin has endured an avalanche of criticism since Anthony Joshua knocked him out two years ago.
The former IBF heavyweight champion views his upcoming fight against Adam Kownacki as an opportunity to silence skeptics who’ve questioned his heart and ability since Joshua beat him. Brooklyn’s Kownacki (17-0, 14 KOs) figures to be by far the toughest of the three opponents Martin has faced since Joshua knocked him out in the second round of their March 2016 title fight in London.
“I haven’t put on display what I can really do in this sport,” Martin said during a conference call Tuesday. “I’m just here to show people that I’m legit and I’m real. That’s what I’m gonna do September 8th. I’ve gotta prove all the haters wrong. I’ve got some stuff to prove, so that’s what it is.”
The 29-year-old Kownacki thinks a victory over Martin (25-1-1, 23 KOs) will lead him toward a title shot. The 6-feet-5, 250-pound Martin says he is a different fighter from the man who entered the ring to box Joshua.
“I’m more mature,” Martin said. “I’m grown. I’m a grown man, so we’re ready. When I get in the ring, when I go to camp and I’m training, I’m serious about what I do. I’m taking my craft serious. That’s what’s different – I’ve grown.”
When he encounters Kownacki on September 8 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the powerful southpaw will fight for the first time since he stopped journeyman Mike Marrone (21-9, 15 KOs) in the first round 13 months ago in Alexandria, Louisiana. The Polish-born Kownacki knocked out Georgia’s Iago Kiladze (26-3, 18 KOs) in the sixth round of his most recent fight, January 20 at Barclays Center.
The 32-year-old Martin respects Kownacki’s toughness, but the St. Louis native is motivated to prove he is a much better fighter than he showed in losing to Joshua.
“I’m just gonna win, man,” Martin said. “I’m coming to win. I’m coming to make a statement, man, devastation.”
When asked for a prediction, Martin replied, “No predictions. You’re gonna see. I like to prove it. I like to show. I’m from the ‘Show Me State.’ No predictions.”
The 10-round Kownacki-Martin match will be part of Showtime’s tripleheader two weeks from Saturday night (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). In the main event, former champions Danny Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Shawn Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) will square off for the vacant WBC welterweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.