"Any challenge presented I take seriously" was the message from Anthony Joshua, as he announced on social media he would challenge Charles Martin for his IBF belt on April 9th.
Boxing pundit Steve Bunce predicted this a week ago, and as the rumour mill stirred, I pondered the possibility of Anthony Joshua (AJ) challenging for a belt in his 15th fight, and 3 1/2 years after his Olympic triumph. Charles Martin had recently called out all the champions, plus AJ, so I started to hypothesize if this fight was likely to happen, and BAM it was all done and dusted and announced on Twitter.
I’m rejoicing for the heavyweight division once more… it’s truly alive & kicking. Wladimir Klitschko’s dominance was surprisingly upended by Tyson Fury last year, and since that time, a plethora of big, young, brash and confident jocks, are all jostling to control a piece of the heavyweight pie.
Deontay Wilder the WBC champion, is gaining mainstream recognition in American as the champ, and is now being exposed to a wider audience, which is putting heavyweight boxing back on the map. With Ronda Rousey losing last year, and Floyd Mayweather’s retirement, Deontay has an opportunity to make heavyweight boxing relevant again in the USA.
Tyson Fury is all over the news and is creating notoriety and plenty of copy for his performance in the ring, winning the title, and his comments and play acting away from the square battle ground, where he earns his living. A recent HBO feature has helped to build his profile in America, and people are definitely intrigued.
Then we have Charles Martin, a 6ft 5ins southpaw with a limited amateur pedigree, who is the newly installed IBF champion. I'm sure Charles would agree, the circumstances of his win are not the ideal way one becomes champion of the world
(Glasgov dislocated his knee and couldn't continue,) but Charles turned up for his moment ready, so you can't blame him for the outcome, even though the fight never got going.
At the same time, David Haye comes back to boxing after 3 years away, and delivers a massive television rating on Dave, blowing his opponent away within a round, and landing a top ten world ranking in the process. The arena is packed and ringside is full with celebrities, showing Mr Haye is still a mainstream commodity.
AJ and Eddie Hearn are watching these developments from Matchroom HQ, and know this is a crucial time to make the right moves. Do we wait, or do we go...must have been a big big discussion. After studying the steps they could take, and watching Martin's last few fights, it's really a tough decision to hold him back and not challenge for this belt.
With the Wladimir era seemingly over, Martin knows a win gets him noticed BIG TIME. Now this is boxing fact, AJ does not have the conditioning or experience to box a tough 12 round bout repeatedly if he wins. That kind of conditioning takes time, and my initial reaction was they should not take this bout. If AJ wins, he becomes a target for EVERYONE, and doesn’t quite have that experience yet, but this opportunity to almost impossible to turn down when you study the facts like have today. Soooooo…..I'm having a change of heart to this announcement, and think they had to move forward and sign.
The man who could be king said … Eddie, work that magic and let’s do this.
The world ranking are filled with fighters that are unbeaten and untested, all believing they deserve a piece of the heavyweight pie. Unlike Lennox, Holyfield, Tyson, and the Klitschko’s, who all built their legacies with defence after defence, taking on all challengers, and all at some point in their rein, dominated the division.
The current crop all had a quick climb to the top as amateurs, and didn’t had the extensive amateur pedigree of Lennox, or Wladimir, who were not only Olympic Champions (like myself ), but both had years of international experience before turning pro. Both Lennox and Wladimir lost earlier in their professional careers, yet learned the lessons by switching trainers, coming back better than before. So if AJ was to lose, he has plenty of time to learn the lesson and come back better than before.
So nothing to lose and everything to gain, is a beautiful position to be in… hats off to Mr Eddie Hearn...you’ve picked up a thing or two from the old man :)
I’ll talk about my predictions in the coming weeks, but I actually think this benefits David Haye more than anyone...if AJ wins, Haye vs Joshua at Wembley Arena in the summer, becomes a real possibility.