After years of walking this earth like a god, Charles Martin is now prepared to ride off into the sunset. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
The former IBF heavyweight titlist isn’t quite at that point but has already mapped out an exit strategy. It includes a knockout win this weekend and avenging the first loss of his career.
“I didn’t get a fair shake in my first run as champion," Martin insisted ahead of Saturday’s Fox Sports Pay-Per-View main event from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. "Luis Ortiz is part of this revenge tour I’m on. Four fights and then I’m going to retire.”
Martin did not make the claim tongue-in-cheek—very few of his public comments are. The 35-year-old southpaw feels that a four-fight plan should be enough for whatever else he plans to achieve in this sport.
First on the list is a dangerous showdown with Ortiz (32-2, 27KOs), a Cuban southpaw based out of Miami whose lone two losses both came at the hands of then-unbeaten WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. Martin was also prepared to face former unified heavyweight champ Andy Ruiz, instead agreeing to—or settling for, depending on the viewpoint—a fight with Ortiz which is being marketed as an IBF heavyweight title eliminator.
Martin (28-2-1, 25KOs) was at a similar place in his last fight. A sixth-round stoppage of Gerald Washington (20-4-1, 13KOs) in February 2020 came with the label of a WBA title eliminator. There were three different versions of the WBA heavyweight title at the time, though Martin didn’t receive a shot at any of them—or a fight of any kind until accepting the fight with Ortiz.
“The last one was supposedly a title eliminator and we saw what happened then,” points out Martin. “I’m remaining hopeful about getting another title shot but I don’t overlook any opponent. [Ortiz is] the only opposition I see at this moment.”
A win on Saturday will leave the St. Louis-bred heavyweight—now based out of Carson, California—in a good place, though not necessarily any closer to a desired second title reign. That is not in his sights right now, though he is rooting for his prior conqueror Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs) to regain his WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO titles in his yet-to-be-announced rematch with Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs). Joshua knocked out Martin inside of two rounds to win the IBF belt in April 2016, leaving Martin with a title reign of just 85 days—the second shortest in heavyweight history.
Wins by Joshua and Martin could make for an interesting rematch, more so if the winner of Usyk-Joshua II doesn’t immediately enter an undisputed title clash with lineal/WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22KOs).
“I want to fight Anthony Joshua again,” insists Martin. “I want to fight him twice and whip his ass back-to-back. I got some business to take care of on Saturday. That’s what it is, man. We’ve been working hard on it and we’re ready.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox