Training smarter for his upcoming crossroads fight with Luis Ortiz has enabled Charles Martin to convert the “flab” he once had around his midsection into muscle.

The hard-hitting, 6-feet-5 southpaw expects to weigh about the same as usual, 250 pounds, for their potentially career-changing fight January 1. Martin believes his enhanced dedication to dieting and strength and conditioning to pay dividends versus a 42-year-old opponent who has lost only to Deontay Wilder, who knocked out Ortiz twice.

“Day in, day out, we’re working hard as a motherf-----,” Martin told “I ain’t skippin’ no runs, I ain’t skippin’ no lifting sessions, I ain’t skippin’ no boxing sessions, I ain’t skippin’ no meal preps. And it all shows. I look strong as a motherf------ and I’m lovin’ it. I love it, man.

“I’m just crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is. I’m just making sure I’m waking up in the morning, I’m taking everything I’m supposed to be doing seriously from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. Everything has to be done right. I’m realizing now and I’m starting to see, you know, the results that the dedication and the hard work, when you put it in, that’s what you’ll get out – you’ll get those great results.”

If the 35-year-old Martin gets a great result in their FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event, the former IBF heavyweight champion will thrust himself back into title contention.

Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) has won three straight fights since he lost a 10-round unanimous decision to then-undefeated Adam Kownacki in September 2018 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The St. Louis native hasn’t fought, however, since he stopped Gerald Washington in the sixth round on the Tyson Fury-Wilder undercard in February 2020 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Ortiz hasn’t been active, either. His only action since Wilder knocked him out in the seventh round of their WBC championship rematch in November 2019 resulted in a first-round knockout of Alexander Flores in November 2020, when Flores’ purse was withheld by the California State Athletic Commission because it questioned how hurt he was when he declined to continue versus Ortiz.

The Cuban-born Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs, 2 NC) hasn’t won a fight in nearly three years, not since he beat Germany’s Christian Hammer by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder at Barclays Center. Martin won’t underestimate his aged, inactive opponent, though.

“He’s a big, strong, dangerous man,” Martin said. “I have to come in there with my ‘A’ game. I have to come in there and really break this man down because without that right amount of pressure on him, he could go the distance, he could stay in the fight. So, I’m gonna have to go in there and, you know, push the pedal when needed and stay focused, don’t get caught with anything dumb, you know, keep my eyes on him and just execute the game plan and what we’ve been training to do for the past couple months.”

Martin has repaired his reputation to some extent following his poor performance against Anthony Joshua, won defeated Martin to win the IBF belt in April 2016 at O2 Arena in London. A win over Ortiz, even at the strong southpaw’s advanced age, would be the most noteworthy win of Martin’s nine-year pro career.

Martin is the IBF’s second-ranked contender for one of Oleksandr Usyk’s titles. Though the top spot in the IBF’s ratings is unoccupied and seemingly available to Martin if he overcomes Ortiz, he won’t allow himself to think ahead of their fight at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Hollywood, Florida.

“I’m just worried about going in here and handling business,” Martin said. “You know what I mean? I can’t worry about where it’s gonna take me. I just say, God willing, everything works out, my manager is happy and everything opens up. But until then, until January 1st is out of the way, we’ll never know for sure. And number two, I can’t look that far in the future. I’ve just gotta focus on Ortiz. That’s the guy that I see when I go to sleep and when I wake up in the morning.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.