Charles Martin will enter the ring at London’s O2 Arena as a heavyweight champion on April 9, but the American will be anything but the crowd favorite.
Defending his title for the first time against unbeaten British bruiser Anthony Joshua (Showtime, 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT), Martin is undeterred by the hostile reception he is certain to receive from the capacity crowd.
“I don’t care how many people are cheering his name,” Martin says. “I don’t care that he’s an Olympic gold medalist with a lot of British fans. I’ve been an underdog all my life. They said the same thing about the last fight.”
That last fight was in January, when Charles Martin, 29, claimed the vacant heavyweight title with a third-round stoppage of Vyacheslav Glazkov in Brooklyn, New York. In doing so, he became just the sixth southpaw to win a heavyweight championship.
Now by taking on the 26-year-old Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs), who won Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games, Martin is facing the biggest challenge of his career. And he says he's very much prepared for it.
“If we were to fight tonight, I’m ready to fight right now. I’m ready to whoop ass and take names,” says Martin, a native of St. Louis who now lives in Carson, California. “I’m knocking out this gold medalist and all of the glory and his fan support. I’m going to take everything that he’s got. It will just be another day at the office for me.”
Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs) has stopped his last 13 opponents, and has gone past the fourth round just once during that stretch. Joshua has also made quick work of his opponents, fighting past the fourth round in his most recent bout: a seventh-round TKO of Dillian Whyte in December.
In an interview with England’s Sky Sports, Joshua outlined his plan for beating Martin.
“I think he’s a cool, calm character and that shows in his boxing,” Joshua said. “That’s what I like about southpaws. They’re calm, collected and they punish you for your mistakes.
“I’ve got to expose him. I’ve got to take him into waters he’s never been in. I’ve got to go in there and turn it into an aggressive, uncomfortable and unpredictable type of fight. That’s how I may rattle Martin.”
Martin says he gained confidence watching Joshua’s last fight, during which the previously unbeaten Whyte landed a second-round left hook that momentarily dazed title contender.
“The man is tailor-made for me, and he’s confused. First, he says he’s going to knock me out in the first round, then [he says] he’s gonna put on his boxing boots and he’s gonna box my ears off, then he says he’s going to make it an aggressive brawl, then he says he’s gonna take me into deep waters,” Martin says.
“This man has said everything in the book, but all I know is that he’s scared, which is why he keeps saying all of these different things. He really doesn’t know what he’s gonna do, but I know what’s gonna happen. I’m big, I’m fast, I’m strong, and that all plays a part. I’m ready to turn into that evil dude that I can be in the ring. I know he’s scared. I’m gonna smash this guy.”
For complete coverage of Martin vs Joshua, visit our fight page.