Charles Martin embracing challenges of defending heavyweight title against Anthony Joshua

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A few weeks after the biggest fight of his life, Charles Martin watched a replay of it for the first time. He wasn’t planning on it. Maybe ever.

Charles Martin

Charles Martin, right, will head to London to make the first defense of his heavyweight title on April 9 against unbeaten British bomber Anthony Joshua. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

On January 16, “Prince” Charles Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs) became a heavyweight world champion by stopping Vyacheslav Glazkov, a result that transformed the American southpaw into the boxing royalty that his nickname foretold.

Unfortunately for Martin, winning the title was kind of like scoring a date with a supermodel only to discover early in the evening that she possessed some kind of turnoff—like, say, an aversion to beer. Yeah, the date may have seemed awesome beforehand, but in the moment, there was something left to be desired.

For Martin, that something was how his fight with Glazkov ended, with the Ukranian boxer unable to continue after injuring his right knee in Round 3.

And so Martin won, but the victory wasn’t just bittersweet—it was like siphoning a lemon. Hence his hesitation in viewing the replay.

“I didn’t even want to see the fight,” Martin says. “I was so disappointed in it.”

But then, three weeks later, Martin was entertaining a houseguest who wanted to see some of his fights. So he showed her his brutal third-round TKO of Vincente Sandez in September for starters, and then, well, why not take a peek at the bout that made him a champ?

Turns out, Martin liked what he saw.

“Actually, I was looking good,” he says, still sounding a little surprised.

He shouldn’t be.

Alhough the fight got off to a tentative start, with Glazkov largely trying to avoid the charge of his bigger opponent, the 6-foot-5 Martin threw and landed more punches, generally outworking Glazkov. In what would prove to be the final round of the fight, Martin was taking control of the action, pressing forward and hammering through Glazkov's defense.

Who knows what would've happened over the final nine rounds had Glazkov not gotten hurt? But clearly, Martin had swung the momentum in his direction. And he feels that it was only a matter of time before he overwhelmed his opponent and finished him off.

“He didn’t have any power. And he knew that I knew that,” Martin says. “Everything that he hit me with, it didn’t have any effect. He was trying to be a little evasive when I tried to step to him.

"I knew that it wouldn’t go 12 rounds, because he’d get slow enough to where I could jump on him like I wanted to jump on him. I would have beaten him up and knocked him out, period.”

I’m not here to fight bums that everybody already knows I can beat and the odds are all hella one-sided. I’m here to fight the best. Charles Martin, on his decision to make his first heavyweight title defense against Anthony Joshua

Despite the confidence-buoying words—not to mention his shiny new title—Martin still comes across as the grounded, good-humored dude he was before the Glazkov fight. Sure, he's a heavyweight champion now, but you wouldn't know it by how he carries himself.

“I don’t look at myself like, ‘Oh, I’m the heavyweight champion of the world, and now I’m somebody special all of a sudden,’” he says. “I’m the same Charles Martin that I’ve always been. When I reach these major accomplishments, it’s just steppingstones.”

And so, for the humble Martin, it's onto the next steppingstone. But rather than make his first title defense against a pushover, the 29-year-old did what few boxers in his position would: He agreed to fight highly regarded British heavyweight contender and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua, who’s widely seen as one of the most dangerous young fighters in the division.

At least Martin, who was born in St. Louis and now lives in Southern California, is forcing Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs) to cross the pond and fight on the champ's home turf, right? Wrong. Martin elected to travel to the U.K. to fight Joshua in a battle of unbeatens at the O2 Arena in London on April 9 (Showtime, 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT).

“I want to fight the biggest names," Martin says of his decision to challenge Joshua instead of taking an easier fight. “He’s a gold medalist, his name is in everybody’s mouth: ‘Anthony Joshua this, Anthony Joshua that. He’s the best, he’s the best.’ So that’s why I called him out.

"I’m not here to fight bums that everybody already knows I can beat and the odds are all hella one-sided. I’m here to fight the best.”

But in fighting the best, Martin wants to ensure that his name gets included in those ranks and that his difficult journey to the top receives its just due.

“I’m going to get it, show y’all what I’m all about, show y’all how I grew up,” he says of his hard-knocks background on the rough streets of St. Louis. “There's a lot of built-up stuff behind all this. When you get in the ring with me, you’ve got to fight everything that I’ve been through.

“Nobody has had to see my will,” he continues. “They haven’t had to see me get knocked down and get back up and win the fight. But it’s there. That’s what it’s all about: the hearts of men. We’re men up in here. And I want to show the world my man-heart, you feel me?”

For full coverage of Martin vs Joshua, check out our fight page.

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