By Keith Idec
Chris Arreola, Dominic Breazeale and Artur Szpilka are the three opponents being seriously considered for IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin’s first title defense.
Martin is expected to face one of those three foes sometime late in April, according to a source close to the situation. The date, site and network have not yet been determined.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Martin emerged from obscurity when the strong southpaw defeated Vyacheslav Glazkov by third-round technical knockout to win the then-unclaimed championship Jan. 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs), of West Hollywood, California, led on two of three scorecards when Ukraine’s Glazkov tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and suffered additional damage while trying to avoid one of Martin’s punches. Glazkov (21-1-1, 13 KOs) couldn’t continue and Martin was awarded the IBF title Tyson Fury gave up after upsetting Wladimir Klitschko on Nov. 28 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The 34-year-old Arreola (37-4-1, 31 KOs, 1 NC), of Riverside, California, defeated Travis Kauffman (30-2, 22 KOs) by split decision in his last fight, December 12 in San Antonio. Arreola, who survived a third-round knockdown during his 12-round fight against Kauffman, settled for a 10-round majority draw in his previous appearance against Fred Kassi (18-4-1, 10 KOs), July 18 in El Paso, Texas.
The 30-year-old Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs), of Alahambra, California, stopped hard-hitting southpaw Amir Mansour (22-2-1, 16 KOs) after five rounds January 23 in Los Angeles. Mansour floored Breazeale in the third round, but one of Breazeale’s punches made Mansour bite through his tongue, which reportedly caused him to swallow blood and prevented him from starting the sixth round.
Breazeale and Martin were scheduled to fight in an NBC co-feature, but Martin withdrew several days before that Dec. 12 bout in San Antonio because he had secured the title fight against Glazkov.
Poland’s Szpilka (20-2, 15 KOs) was knocked out in brutal fashion by WBC champion Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) in the ninth round of their Jan. 16 fight at Barclays Center. Based on the subsequent Association of Boxing Commissions suspension following his knockout defeat, the 26-year-old Szpilka, who was knocked unconscious by Wilder’s counter right hand, might not be available in time to meet Martin.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.