Bundled up to stave off London’s cold northerly wind, Charles Martin is hoping he doesn’t catch a nasty chill in the ring Saturday during his world heavyweight title clash against British sensation Anthony Joshua.
At Thursday’s press conference, Charles Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs) had more layers on than an Eskimo in midwinter. But keeping him warm was the feeling of his world title belt hanging off his waist. It’s a title he won less than three months ago and one many experts believe he’ll lose to Anthony Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs), a seemingly invincible 6-foot-6 knockout artist who has drawn comparisons to a young Mike Tyson some 30 years ago.
But if Martin is at all nervous about jumping in the ring (Showtime, 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT) against Joshua at London’s O2 Arena, which will be packed with 20,000 mostly pro-Joshua supporters, he’s definitely hiding it well. In fact, the 29-year-old American was easily the coolest kid in class at Thursday’s press event.
“Too cool for school, that’s me,” Martin says in a drawl that fell somewhere between the Midwest (his birthplace) and Southern California (where he resides).
“I’m really chilled about the fight, no worries there. I believe in myself, and I believe I am going to knock [Joshua] out. His left leg is stiff when he throws a shot, and I have the biggest and baddest left hand in the business. The world will know all about ‘Prince’ Charles Martin when I finish him.”
Although there was an element of mean intent in Martin’s guarantee, this match has delivered none of the trash talk that infuses so many high-octane fights. The pair shook hands on the conference stage at least twice and even had time for a little small talk before the two camps went their separate ways.
The fact that Martin will become an instant multimillionaire the second he walks into the ring may have something to do with his cordial nature. But regardless of paydays, there has been a distinct lack of venom between the two warring parties since the fight was made in February.
“I don’t have time for that,” Martin says. “I do what I do in the ring, not out of it. Joshua’s a nice kid; why should I try and pretend otherwise? We are both a credit to the sport of boxing, and that’s great, that’s how it should be.
“I was brought up to respect people, and of course I respect him. But I still have a job to do, and I’m going to knock him out. I promise, it’s gonna happen.”
As for Joshua, who was born and raised in London’s suburbs, the hype in his homeland has gone into overdrive. That will happen when you start your career with 15 consecutive stoppage victories, this after doing his nation proud by winning the super heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Needless to say, British fight followers are salivating at the thought of a new global superstar.
“And the reason why I knocked all those fighters out was simple: I’m too good,” Joshua says. “This is no fluke. This is what I do, and I do it better than any man alive.”
Mirroring Tyson all those years ago, Joshua has put away all but one opponent inside of three rounds, but the quality of those contests only varied in their limitations. Ditto Martin: He has won all but three of his bouts inside the distance, but again, the quality was patchy.
The American does indeed boast a hammer-blow left hand and tight defense, whereas the Englishman has so far banged out his opponents using both fists in equal measure.
While Johnson will have a massive crowd in his corner come Saturday night, Martin insists he’s fine fighting in enemy territory. “I’ve been an underdog all my life,” he says.
The wind may be blowing from the north in London, but Martin wants it to start turning in his direction, to the west. If he hangs in there long enough and takes the best Joshua can throw, it just might happen.
For full coverage of Martin vs Joshua, check out our fight page.