Jared Anderson experienced a series of firsts.

It all ended with his unblemished record still intact, but the 23-year-old heavyweight did not deliver a knockout ending for the first time as a pro. Instead, he settled for a wide unanimous decision victory over former IBF heavyweight titlist Charles Martin.

Judges David DeJonge (99-90), Ben Rochester (99-90) and Mike Fitzgerald (99-91) all scored for Anderson, who scored a third-round knockdown but was extended beyond the sixth round and to the scorecards for the first time. It all occurred in his hometown debut in his first ESPN main event Saturday from Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.

“I was very grateful for (Martin) taking the fight on short notice. He put on a hella performance and was hella good,” Anderson told ESPN’s Crystina Poncher after his first decision win. “This was the first time (going the distance). I just wanted to make sure I had it in me to withstand power the whole ten rounds. He had power until the last round.”

Martin accepted the assignment on twelve days’ notice but was already in fighting shape. He was in camp for a planned July 29 fight date versus Gurgen Hovhannisyan (4-0, 4KOs) when he was asked to replace Kazakhstan’s Zhan Kossobutskiy (19-0, 18KOs) was unable to secure a visa in time to travel for the fight.

The vow by the 37-year-old southpaw was to use his jab to stunt Anderson’s potent offense.

It worked to a degree as both heavyweights as both fought behind the stick. Anderson landed the first significant power shot, a right hand midway through the opening round. Martin was not without his moments, as he landed two straight lefts in the closing seconds. Anderson—who outlanded Martin 15-to-4 in the first three minutes, scored with a looping right hand downstairs but was unable to connect before the bell.

Anderson quickly closed the gap in round two as he established his straight right hand to the body. Martin was on the move and fought in reverse without throwing anything of significance in return. A right hand and left hook to the chin by Anderson sent the announced crowd of 7,234 into a frenzy but Martin regained his composure and returned to the jab.

Round three became a southpaw battle as Anderson switched out of his traditional stance. It produced the bout’s first knockdown which came late in the frame and after Martin spent most of it on the outside. Anderson found his range and uncorked a right hook. Martin complained that it was a trip but referee Robert Hoyle issued the count and replays did not support Martin’s argument.

Anderson switched between conventional and southpaw in round four. Martin was clearheaded and unaffected by the prior knockdown but was in trouble in the final minute of round four. A right hand to the body by Anderson was countered by a straight left hand upstairs by Martin which barely missed the mark. Anderson immediately responded with right hands and left hooks to drive Martin to the ropes.

Martin was forced to deal with swelling around his left eye but overcame the adversity to deliver his best round of the fight to that point in round five. Anderson’s chin was put to the test after Martin connected with a long left hand. The local hero remained upright but was unable to avoid Martin’s power shot and was forced to clinch in an effort to clear his head.

“I thought I took his best shots very well,” Anderson said. “I felt like there was never a point where I didn’t show I could take …”

The success carried over into round six for Martin, who opened with a counter right hand. Anderson continued to come forward and returned to the jab. Anderson landed a short right hand to the body on the inside. Martin reset and was able to land his left hand.

“He’s a crafty boxer. Usually when I catch someone and hurt them, I can follow up and finish. If they fall, usually I can do damage and put them away. He’s like a little middleweight. The dude is as crafty as a motherf***er.”  

Anderson entered uncharted territory as the bell sounded to begin round seven. He regained control of the fight in the process, though not to the point where Martin was in trouble at any point in the round.

Martin’s jab and movement effectively slowed down Anderson’s normally potent punch output. The young heavyweight entered the fight landing more punches per round and at a much higher percentage than the divisional average but had to rely on efficiency versus Martin.

Anderson landed 157-of-369 total punches (42.6%) compared to 85-of-324 (26.2%) for Martin according to Compubox. Anderson was credited with 99-of-186 power punches (53.2%),  landing more and at a much higher percentage than Martin who landed 64-of-172 (37.2%) in that same category.

The pace slowed in round eight, though both had their moments in the closing seconds. Anderson jabbed his way inside but had to shake off a left hand by Martin.

Anderson returned to southpaw in round nine and controlled the pace with his right jab. He doubled up on the shot and tagged Martin on the chin with a right hook and straight left midway through the round. The crowd rallied behind their hometown favorite, who continued to come forward. Martin nearly made him pay as he landed a counter left hand just before the bell.

Martin was told by his corner that he was “one punch from being a champion” heading into the tenth and final round of their regional title fight. Anderson was instructed to stick to one-twos, whether it produced a knockout or forced him to go to the scorecards. He listened for the most part but Martin went for broke down the stretch. A left hand by the former titlist sent Anderson to the ropes but avoided disaster as he made it to the bell.

The valiant effort by Martin will earn at least one more big opportunity and payday, even in defeat. He fell to 29-4-1 (26KOs) but offered a credible account of himself at a point when he was written off by most in the industry.

“I took the fight on [twelve] days’ notice,” noted Martin. “I did the best I could. He’s a real champion, I’m proud of him.”

The knockout streak ended for Anderson, who is now 15-0 (14KOs). A night of firsts—ESPN main event, hometown appearance, fight past six rounds and going to the scorecards—did not discourage the rising heavyweight, who remained perfect as a pro.

“What’s in my plans is with my team and promotional company,” Anderson said after the win. “Soaking up all the game and following the path. Anyone in the top ten, they can come get it.” 

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox