The former world heavyweight champion is out to make a statement when he faces the hard-hitting Luis Ortiz Saturday night in the main event of a heavyweight extravaganza on FOX Sports PPV.
To hear him talk, Charles Martin has lived a thousand lives, been in a thousand places, seen thousands of things and survived about a thousand moments in his life. That emanated from when “Prince” Charles was young. He was always large for his age, and growing up in the badlands of St. Louis, Missouri, that meant he had to fight every day.
He was a six-year-old getting kicked in the mouth by 12-year-olds.
Until one day, he stopped it.
There was a family up the street from him called the Huns. There were 16 of them, ranging in age from 18 on down to diapers. So, when Martin beat up the six-year-old Hun, the nine-year-old older brother approached Martin one day in the playground and said, “You know we have to beat you up!” Martin got tired of being harassed by the older Huns, bolted up and shouted, “I know, bring it on!”
On Saturday, Martin may envision another Hun in front of him, when he takes on knockout artist Luis Ortiz in the main event of the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, in Hollywood, Florida.
The 12-round Martin-Ortiz New Year’s Day fight, an IBF heavyweight title eliminator, highlights a packed heavyweight card of five compelling matchups, also featuring four 10-round bouts between Frank Sanchez and Christian Hammer, Jonnie Rice and Michael Coffie II, Gerald Washington and Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen and unbeaten Viktor Faust against Iago Kiladze.
The Ortiz match marks the first time Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) will be fighting in 22 months, since he stopped Gerald Washington in the sixth round on February 2, 2020, on the undercard of Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder II.
Martin, the animated 35-year-old southpaw, is riding a three-fight winning streak since he lost to Adam Kownacki in September 2018. Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) presents Martin’s biggest challenge since he was stopped by then-IBF heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua in April 2016.
This is a crossroads fight for Martin, who at 6-foot-5 is an inch taller than the 42-year-old Cuban expatriate and his 80” reach is two inches longer than Ortiz’s.
If Martin wins, it catapults him back into heavyweight title contention. If he loses, he’ll need to pick up the pieces of his career.
Martin says he’s used the layoff to his advantage. He’s become stronger and continued to train, despite the COVID-19 pandemic wiping away some opportunities to fight in the last couple of years.
This is a new, improved “Prince” Charles, according to Martin, one far better than the previous incarnation.
“ I don’t worry about what (Ortiz) can do, he has to worry about what I can do. ” Former World Heavyweight Champion - Charles Martin
“I want to do it right,” stressed Martin, who is being trained by Manny Robles. “I want to do things right inside and outside the ring. I have an 18-year-old son and I want to be an example to him. I don’t worry about what (Ortiz) can do, he has to worry about what I can do. I don’t give a damn what he can do.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people that the only one who can stop me is me. I go in there screwing off, doing all of the wrong stuff, they say. I’ve heard it a million times. I have to use a whole body towel to dry myself off after training, where I used to use a hand towel. I never did that. I wasn’t sweating enough.
“I sweat every day now. I didn’t even train a quarter of how hard I’m training. I’m in beast mode. Watch, everyone will see. It’s all coming together now. Ortiz is going to feel some stuff. He’s dangerous, but he’s out of his prime. I’m in my prime.”
Martin is still angry over the Joshua fight and promises they will fight again. But getting by the formidable Ortiz is a needed step on that journey. Martin says he would like to fight three times in 2022, beginning New Year’s Day, and then possibly again in the spring and then the fall.
Ortiz’s two losses have come against then-WBC world heavyweight champion Wilder. It has to be noted, however, that Ortiz was beating Wilder in their November 2019 rematch, up on the judge’s scorecards 59-55 twice, and 58-56, when Wilder smashed him with his vaunted right hand and ended it at 2:51 of the seventh round.
Martin guarantees he’ll hit Ortiz harder than Wilder did.
“He’s never been hit by someone like me, and after Ortiz is down, I’ll fight again maybe April or May, and then September and October,” Martin said. “I want to spend my holidays next year with my babies, twin daughters. I survived rough times growing up, and I got up out of there. I had to take my lumps and bruises in boxing and people need to know that. Boxing is all I have.
“That’s what I’m fighting for. I used to be in the streets, and in the clubs, drinking. Boxing saved my life. It all happened when I stood up to that Hun kid. It’s the first time I stood up to anybody. I’m still standing. People will see that on New Year’s Day.”
For a closer look at Charles Martin, check out his fighter page.