After breaking down video of Anthony Joshua’s last fight, heavyweight champion Charles Martin and trainer Henry Tillman believe they’ve discovered chinks in the armor of the British challenger.
A 6-foot-6 gold medalist in the 2012 London Olympics, Anthony Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs) survived being rocked by a second-round left hook in December before dropping and stopping the 6-4 Dillian Whyte with a right uppercut in the seventh.
“I saw his last fight; they matched up well,” says Charles Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs), who will defend his title for the first time Saturday against Joshua at the O2 Arena in London (Showtime, 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT). “But [Whyte’s] not as mobile as I am, so when [Joshua’s] in the ring with me, it’s going to be a lot different.”
Tillman gets even more specific, believing his fighter will be able to take full advantage of Joshua’s aggression.
“If Joshua comes out there and tries to jump on Charles, I believe Charles is going to knock him out, I really do,” says Tillman, who won Olympic gold as a U.S. heavyweight in the 1984 Olympics. “If not, we’ve trained for this fight to win every round.
“Joshua’s going to have his hands full. This is going to be, hands down, a much tougher matchup against Charles than it was for Joshua against Dillian Whyte.”
In addition to bringing much more experience to the ring than Whyte, who was 16-0 before losing to Joshua, Martin also matches up well size-wise against the Englishman. Having towered over his opponents for much of his amateur and pro career, the 26-year-old Joshua will only have a one-inch height advantage against the 6-5 Martin and just a two-inch reach edge (82-80).
More importantly—at least in the champion’s eyes—is that Martin is a southpaw, which the 29-year-old Carson, California, resident thinks will cause Joshua big problems.
“That will definitely play a part,” Martin says. “I’ve been fighting right-handers my whole career, and when it comes time for a right-hander to fight a southpaw, they only get a short amount of time to train.
“Dillian Whyte was getting rocked, but he kind of threw a desperate left hook out there and it hurt [Joshua], and that just shows that his chin is suspect. I see that his chin ain’t nothing. He got rocked by a Hail Mary shot. Had [Joshua] been in more control like he should have been, he wouldn’t have gotten caught like that. That turned the fight. … If I hurt him like that, I’m not going to let him off the hook.”
Martin will be back in action for the first time since January 16, when he gained a third-round TKO of Vyacheslav Glazkov to become the sixth southpaw—and third American lefty—to win a heavyweight crown.
However, some critics dismissed Martin's triumph over Glazkov, mostly because neither fighter inflicted much damage through 2½ rounds before Glazkov succumbed to a knee injury and could not continue. By rule, Martin was declared the winner by TKO and awarded the vacant title.
“People are criticizing me for the way the fight ended,” Martin says. “I wanted to knock him out, but he hurt his leg, which isn’t my fault. But I’m not getting caught up in the hype.”
Says Tillman: “Glazkov was a tricky fighter with a lot of experience, sitting on that back foot like a fencer with that European style. But Charles was just starting to find his range, just starting to touch Glazkov and to make him look like a little boy in there.”
In Martin, Joshua will be taking on an undefeated opponent for the third consecutive fight, having preceded the victory over Whyte with a first-round KO of Gary Cornish (then 21-0). However, Martin is easily the most accomplished boxer Joshua will be facing since turning pro in October 2013.
Because of that, Tillman says the challenger would be making a huge mistake if he takes the champ lightly.
“He’s crazy if he does,” Tillman says. “I think Charles is going to knock Joshua out, especially if he thinks he’s going to come in there and jump on Charles. If that’s his game plan, we’d love that.”
For complete coverage of Martin vs Joshua, visit our fight page.