On Saturday, the announcement came out that 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist Anthony Joshua will face Charles Martin April 9 at the O2 Arena in London. This is being promoted as a world title fight, but that is a fantasy in which I refuse to participate. The IBF heavyweight belt should in no way be confused with a legitimate world title at this point in time.
I’ve been heaping scorn on the IBF on weekly basis, but it’s worth recapping again just what kind of shenanigans led to Martin being hailed as a “world champion.” The IBF stripped Tyson Fury of their shair of the crown shortly after the Englishman upset Wladimir Klitschko, so that it could be contested for by Martin and Vyacheslav Glazkov.
Glazkov was certainly a worthy title challenger, but not one with such a pressing case that it warranted jumping Klitschko’s mandatory rematch. Martin was in no way, shape or form deserving of a world title shot. He was, and in my mind remains, an intriguing heavyweight prospect. He’s a big, athletic guy who can crack. He’s also as raw and clumsy as a dancing bear at this point. But when Glazkov was forced to quit in Round 3 with an injured knee, Martin was suddenly the most unqualified man to ever be recognized as a heavyweight world champion. The IBF heavyweight belt was suddenly the most laughable excuse for a title in the entire laughable alphabet-soup boxing universe.
However, Joshua vs. Martin is a nice fight and I’m quite pleased to see it made. Joshua at times looks like he could be the true future of the division. He shows flashes of being a rightful heir to Britain’s greatest heavyweight, Lennox Lewis. At the same time, Martin is quite possibly the best opponent he’s faced to date. Beating Martin shouldn’t make him a world champion. But it will be a nice win for him just the same.
Moreover, if Joshua wins, as I think he will, it should bring us closer to seeing the heavyweight straps reunited. Joshua vs. Tyson Fury would be a major fight in Britain and a big deal in the United States, as well. Joshua vs. WBC champ Deontay Wilder would be a great US-UK fight.
I’m not willing to call Anthony Joshua vs. Charles Martin a legitimate world title fight. But it’s still a fight that is very good for the health of the heavyweight division.