When Deontay Wilder dethroned Bermane Stiverne by unanimous decision 363 days ago, he became the United States’ first heavyweight champion since Shannon Briggs in 2007. Come Saturday night, “Prince” Charles Martin gets his chance to etch his name in the heavyweight history books.
A native of Missouri now living in Southern California, Charles Martin (22-0-1, 20 KOs) will try to become just the sixth southpaw—and third American lefty—to claim a heavyweight crown when he battles Vyacheslav Glazkov (21-0-1, 13 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The scheduled 12-round bout is for a vacant title and will serve as the lead-in to Deontay Wilder’s heavyweight title defense against Polish southpaw Artur Szpilka. The non-PBC fight card will air on Showtime (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) as part of a free preview weekend, and also be streamed live on the network’s YouTube channel.
“I’m confident I’ll become a heavyweight champion of the world,” says the 6-foot-5 Martin, who agreed to face the 6-3 Glazkov on December 18. “I’ve fought right-handers my entire career, but it’s gonna be hard for Glazkov to beat me with only three weeks to train for my southpaw style.”
Showtime analyst and boxing historian Steve Farhood notes that the first southpaw to challenge for a heavyweight title was Germany’s Karl Mildenberger in September 1966. Mildenberger lost by 12th-round TKO to Muhammad Ali in the scheduled 15-round bout.
It wouldn’t be until May 1992, when Michael Moorer stopped Bert Cooper for a vacant title, that a lefty would finally grab boxing’s biggest prize. Another eight years would pass before the next southpaw—Chris Byrd of Flint, Michigan—snatched a heavyweight tile, defeating Vitali Klitschko via ninth-round KO in April 2000.
The other lefty champs were South Africa’s Corrie Sanders (who knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in the second round in March 2003), Uzbekistan’s Ruslan Chugaev (April 2007) and Russia’s Sultan Ibragimov (June 2007).
Moorer ended up being a three-time champion, while Byrd and Chugaev claimed the title twice. None, however, had Martin’s combination of athleticism, height and power.
“I'm massive, strong, powerful, elusive. I’m a complete fighter who can also fight moving backward,” Martin says. “Glazkov’s best bet is to come and fight, [but] my jab will keep him at range. My hand speed and movement will keep me from shots.
“If Glazkov gets too close, he’ll get cracked with combinations. He’s definitely going to be in for the hardest fight of his life. I wouldn’t want to fight me.”
It’s unlikely you’d get an argument from any of Martin’s last dozen opponents, none of whom made it to the final bell. During this stretch of 12 straight knockouts, Martin has scored four first-round finishes and only once was taken past the fourth round, that being a 10th-round KO of Raphael Zumbano Love in February.
Most recently, Martin defeated Vicente Sanchez by third-round TKO in September. He weighed a career-high 247¾ pounds for that contest, but at Friday’s weigh-in, he checked in even heavier at 249.5.
“ This is God saying, ‘Here’s a gift, Charles; now let me see how you’re gonna unwrap it.’ ” Heavyweight Malik Scott on title challenger Charles Martin
Glazkov has been idle since August 15, when he earned a fourth-round KO of journeyman Kentson Manswell in Russia. As dominating as he was in that fight, the Ukrainian boxer has been prone to uninspiring performances in recent years.
For instance, Glazkov eked out a disputed unanimous decision over former 200-pound champ Steve Cunningham in March; won a narrow majority decision over journeyman Derric Rossy in August 2014; and struggled during a split draw with 6-4 Malik Scott in February 2013, the only non-victory of his career.
The one thing those three opponents have in common? They all fight orthodox. Preparing for a lefty such as Martin—and having to do so in short order—will present some unique challenges for Glazkov, who weighed in Friday at a career-low 218 pounds.
“Glazkov's probably never spent any length of time sparring with a southpaw until now,” says Byrd, who retired in 2009 with a 41-5-1 record. “I’ve seen Martin fight. It’s hard to find sparring partners to emulate his height, style and power.
“It may take Glazkov seven or eight rounds to develop a rhythm, but by then, Martin's gonna be way ahead. He’ll be hard for Glazkov to figure out.”
Tony Thompson is a southpaw heavyweight who knows what it’s like to be in Martin’s position: Thompson twice challenged Wladimir Klitschko for the heavyweight crown four years apart and was stopped in both contests, losing by 11th-round knockout in July 2008 and sixth-round TKO in July 2012.
Thompson, who is 6-5 and sees Martin as “a younger version of myself," says he doesn’t believe Martin will have the same kind of problems against Glazkov that Thompson had in his two bouts against Klitschko.
“Martin can throw punches from crazy angles that right-handers don’t see,” says the 44-year-old Thompson. “Glazkov’s smaller—a good, not great boxer. Martin should dictate tempo, keep him turning in a fast-paced fight. Glazkov’s been the distance a few times, but Martin's size and pressure should win it.”
Thompson isn’t the only peer who likes Martin’s chances Saturday. Scott, the only fighter so far to face Glazkov and not leave with an “L,” believes Martin’s skills are superior and predicts he’ll take advantage of his opportunity.
“Glazkov’s gotten some gift decisions, but he'll have to earn this one,” says Scott, who rose from a ninth-round knockdown to defeat Thompson in October. “He’s got slow feet and an average skill set.
“Martin’s not as fast or agile as I am, but he has good technique and a great opportunity. This is God saying, ‘Here’s a gift, Charles. Now let me see how you’re gonna unwrap it.’ So, Charles, don't blow this.”
- Charles Martin