I’ve made no secret of the fact that I view the IBF heavyweight belt as a bad joke played upon the sport by a greedy, short-sighted sanctioning body. Almost as soon as Tyson Fury had defeated Wladimir Klitschko, the IBF stripped Fury, in order to match Vyacheslav Glazkov against Charles Martin.
Glazkov was a moderately deserving challenger. Martin was a completely undeserving one. He was undefeated, with a 22-0-1 record and 20 KOs. But the best victories on his resume were journeyman punching bag to the stars Kertson Manswell and Cuban cruiserweight prospect Glendy Hernandez. Neither victory was anywhere near sufficient to deserve a title bout.
When Martin and Glazkov fought, Glazkov injured his knee in Round 3 and was forced to quit. Just like that, the least qualified belt holder in heavyweight history was crowned.
Last Saturday night in London, Martin defended his belt for the first time, against the English hero of the 2012 Olympic games, Anthony Joshua, the first British heavyweight to ever win gold. Joshua has been viewed as the heir to Lennox Lewis by his countrymen and viewed universally as a good bet to take over the division in a post-Klitschko world.
Against Martin, Joshua exposed the undeserving American. He dropped him twice in Round 2. The second time, the referee waved off the count and the least significant heavyweight reign of all time was over in just four-and-one-half minutes.
While Anthony Joshua’s victory doesn’t exactly raise the IBF belt to credibility, it will potentially put it at the center of some of the most important fights in the division. A fight between Joshua and Fury would electrify Great Britain and draw plenty of interest world-wide.
Another undefeated, rising young star, Joseph Parker, is scheduled to face the tough Frenchman, Carlos Takam, in May. That fight is an IBF eliminator, which means if Parker wins, he could be on a collision course with Joshua. It would be the biggest matchup between two young heavyweights in a long time.