World at Joshua’s feet ahead of Martin heavyweight title fight
Lee Gormley | February 15, 2016
Joshua handed early world title shot
Anthony Joshua has already taken the heavyweight division by storm, rampantly rallying to 15 straight knockouts from as many professional outings since clinching Olympic glory at London 2012, and the Briton now has the chance to become world champion later this year.
The Watford-born boxer last stopped long-standing rival Dillian Whyte in seven rounds during their heated domestic dust-up, and the 2012 Gold Medallist will next return to the scene of those previous victories to contest Charles Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs) for the IBF crown on April 9th.
Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs) has long been hailed as Britain’s rising boxing star, having devastatingly halted every man put in front of him but, after making his mark in the division so swiftly, the fast-learning prospect is now ready to mix it with the big boys and claim early career success.
In what will be only his 16th professional outing and against a more experienced American opponent, the installing of Joshua as the heavy odds-on 1/8 favourite with Coral only highlights the hopes and expectancy placed on this Hertfordshire hard-hitter’s towering shoulders.
Joshua can dethrone ‘Prince’ and become king
Widely regarded as boxing’s next British superstar, Joshua holds enormous pressure returning to the O2 Arena on April 9th, but he has already proved he has the ring talents to succeed at the highest level, following his longest test to date against Whyte last December.
The WBC international champion finally had his chin tested in early exchanges with Whyte during their fiery encounter, but came through such challenges to ultimately add another victim to his ever-growing list of knockout casualties.
Despite entering as the massive favourite to triumph, ‘Prince’ Martin possesses plenty of threat to Joshua’s impressive run, and the St Louis-born southpaw is 5/1 to derail such a high-profile streak to retain his previously earned IBF strap.
American bruiser Martin clinched that earlier vacant title by defeating Vyacheslav Glazkov in January, after it was contentiously stripped from Tyson Fury for the Briton opting to fight Wladimir Klitschko again, rather than face the mandatory challenger.
Fury, the owner of WBA and WBO belts, has since outlined as Martin, WBC title-holder Deontay Wilder and Klitschko (10/3 to win rematch by KO) as three heavyweights he wants to meet in the ring during 2016, but in a complete contrast, also claimed he could quit boxing altogether.
Heavyweight supremacy in sights for Briton
With his compatriot Fury an unpredictable character when it comes to his future in the sport, Joshua is the opposite, focusing solely on cementing himself as the IBF champion by overcoming Martin in April and realising a childhood dream.
“Fighting for the heavyweight world title has been a dream of mine since I turned professional,” said Joshua.
“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to turn that dream into reality. Martin is a great fighter and a hungry competitor so I am going to have to produce the performance of my career to claim that belt.”
Also being the leading light of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions, Joshua faces a tough task early in his career, despite what the odds may suggest, and experience may play a key role in Martin’s bid to retain his crown in London.
Experience key for Martin retaining hopes
The 29-year-old American has emphatically prevailed from 23 of his 24 bouts, with a single draw coming in 2013, including a solid 21 KO victories, and has threatened to stop Joshua in what will be his first bout outside of the United States.
“I’m coming to the UK to make a statement that I am the best heavyweight in the world and no-one is taking my title,” stated Martin.
“I’m world champion, so that doesn’t mean just sit back and make easy defences in the US. It means facing the biggest challenges out there.”
Over Joshua’s his 15 bouts to date, he has racked up only 32 rounds of experience, with seven of those coming against Whyte in his most recent ring outing, and it’s that lack of going the distance that could either see him end another night prematurely or be drawn into a long, gruelling bust-up.
Somebody’s 0 must go in London liaison
Both the reigning IBF champion and his first challenger to that coveted crown have so far avoided defeat in their professional careers, with nobody having been a genuine threat to either, but in London somebody’s unbeaten streak must come to an abrupt end.
Before coming up against bitter rival Whyte, Joshua hadn’t been taken beyond the third round, but overcame another obstacle to eventually earn himself this early shot a world title glory, and his promoter is hoping he doesn’t let the occasion get the better of him on April 9th.
“Anthony has got to show a lot more calmness than he did in the fight with Dillian Whyte. He boxed purely on emotion and made a whole load of mistakes, but he showed he has got a good chin, he showed that he is fit and showed his power late in the fight,” added Hearn.
“It was a massive learning curve, I think you are going to see a much improved Anthony Joshua against Charles Martin, but again we don’t know how good Charles Martin actually is. We know he is good, but how good is he? He is undefeated, but he has been virtually untested.”
Future Fury and Wilder bouts on horizon?
It may be looking prematurely ahead in the so far explosive career of Britain’s leading boxing light but, if Joshua was to emerge victorious later this year, it would undoubtedly open the door to even more high-profile boxing bouts with the likes of compatriot Fury or brash American Wilder.
These are huge fights that Hearn hopes to gain for his main man further down the line: “Sure, that is one of the reasons why we have taken this fight. The victory makes those fights so much bigger,” continued the promoter.
“Of course, if Anthony is successful, we would look to get him out again in the summer and he can fight anyone he wants.
“There’s David Haye, Tyson Fury, although he is probably most likely to be tied up with Wladimir Klitschko. There are a lot of people saying he’ll have to learn on the job with some defences. But we will take it fight by fight.
“He is already probably one of the most powerful commodities in the heavyweight division. Add that world title around his waist and all of a sudden it takes him to another level, probably one of the biggest stars in the sport.”
World at Joshua’s feet
Joshua’s incredible heavyweight talents were perfectly showcased at the 2012 Olympic Games, as he rallied to a Gold Medal victory, and he has since proved his worth on the professional platform in such devastating fashion.
@Klitschko Appreciate this, even more motivation to put on a good show for the people! Hope you’re good Champ
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyfjoshua) February 14, 2016
But the world is now at the bullish Briton’s feet, as he aims to conquer Martin and see himself crowned as a world champion after just 16 fights, with April 9th set to be a decisive date for the supremely talented heavyweight.
Defeat would undoubtedly hurt the Watford bruiser hugely but, with such drive and a commanding aura surrounding him as he enters each and every bout, the promising powerhouse has all the attributes needed to clinch the IBF strap with both hands.
Joshua recently received the backing of previously dominant world champion Klitschko ahead of his April showdown, with this only adding to his motivation, as Britain’s most promising fighter looks to turn potential into genuine success on April 9th in what could be an electric night on home soil.