Back in November 1986, a 20-year-old phenom named Mike Tyson destroyed Trevor Berbick in two rounds to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history. At age 26, Anthony Joshua knows he can’t break Tyson’s record, but he’s nonetheless planning to capture his first heavyweight title in similarly spectacular—and speedy—fashion when he battles Charles Martin on Saturday.
“I’m the challenger looking to come in and annihilate the champion, kind of like when Tyson fought Berbick,” Joshua says. “Just don’t give Charles Martin the chance. I want to outclass him.”
A 6-foot-6 gold medalist in the 2012 London Olympics, the hammer-fisted Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs) certainly has enjoyed a very Tyson-like start to his career. Not only has the U.K. native stopped every opponent he’s faced, but 12 of his foes haven’t made it to the third round, with five dudes falling in Round 1.
So even though Charles Martin (23-0, 21 KOs) is by far the most accomplished fighter Anthony Joshua has seen to date, the challenger is confident he’ll have no problem adding Martin to his list of knockout victims when the two meet in a heavyweight title fight at the O2 Arena in London (Showtime, 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT).
“Charles is a counterpuncher, he’s laid back, he doesn’t work the full rounds,” says Joshua, who weighed in for the bout at 244 pounds Friday, while Martin checked in at 245. “When I look at Charles Martin, it’s not that I see weaknesses, but I feel that I’m the better man. I’m confident in making people crumble after a few rounds.”
While Joshua says he’ll stop the champion “within six rounds,” Martin predicts his opponent will fail to back up his words with his fists.
A 29-year-old southpaw from Southern California by way of St. Louis, Martin won the vacant title on January 16 with a TKO of Vyacheslav Glazkov, who severely injured his right knee in the third round and was unable to continue.
Rather than defend his new crown on his home turf against a lesser opponent, Martin opted to fly halfway around the world and battle the dangerous Joshua in his backyard. In so doing, Martin believes he’s proven his courage with his actions. Conversely, he views Joshua’s words as nothing more than false bravado meant to mask an underlying fear.
He even told Joshua as much during a 46-second staredown at a February news conference in England, mouthing the words, “You’re scared. I can smell it on you and see it in your eyes.”
“I’m an animal. I don’t worry about people like that,” Martin says. “I don’t care how many people are cheering his name. I don’t care that everybody thinks he’s a superstar. I know he’s green and not ready for me.”
“ The only thing Joshua relies on is his power. But I’ve got more in my arsenal. I have more tools than he does. I can do it all. ” Heavyweight champion Charles Martin
During a seventh-round stoppage of 6-foot-4 Dillian Whyte in December, Joshua survived being rocked by a second-round left hook before dropping and stopping his man with a right uppercut. Prior to facing Whyte, who was 16-0, Joshua had never been taken past three rounds.
“Charles Martin’s not my toughest opponent yet,” Joshua says. “I don’t think this will be tough like the Dillian Whyte fight. [Whyte] threw a haymaker of a left hook and it kind of dazzled me a little bit, but I held myself together, showed composure. It was a tough fight for sure, but I don’t think Charles will pose the same threats that Dillian did.”
Martin, who became only the sixth southpaw in history to win a heavyweight title when he defeated Glazkov, sees things differently. He believes Joshua got exposed by White and that it will only be a matter of time before he wears down his less experienced opponent.
“In that Dillian White fight, he did get tired, he showed no footwork, he can’t box or move well,” Martin says. “The only thing he relies on is his power. But I’ve got more in my arsenal. I have more tools than he does. I can do it all.”
Speaking of Joshua’s power, it’s indeed real and substantial. Then again, so is Martin’s. After all, he’s stopped 21 of his 24 opponents, including the last 13, and has been taken past the fourth round just three times in his 3½-year pro career.
“If [Joshua] thinks he’s going to land hard punches on me, he’s got another thing coming,” Martin says. “The things I’m going to do in there will give him an entirely different look. He’s going to get tired like he normally does, thinking he’s only going to go five rounds, and that’s when I’m going to jump on his head.
“I don’t plan on [putting the decision] into the judges’ hands. My judges will be my left and right hand. I know I’m going to knock him out.”
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