Well, all the talking is done and it is time for the Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua to perform on the world stage. Joshua challenges the unknown IBF champion Charles Martin at the 02 tomorrow night for the IBF title.
Both fighters have freakish knock out power and they are both undefeated with little pro experience compared to other heavyweights in the top 10. What is intriguing about this fight is that both fighters record’s are very similar. Boxing experts, news reporters, die hard boxing fans and the man down the local pub.
All have their own opinions on whom will become victorious this weekend.
I do believe most of the predictions I have heard thus far is based on the heart ruling the head at times. And its fair to say that those opinions are based on favouritism. We know Joshua has got devastating knock out power, but we have to look closely at the quality of his passed opponents before we can make a clear assumption about his chances of beating Martin.
Since turning pro in 2013 Joshua’s career has been steered carefully in the right direction and he has faced the sort of opponents he supposed to beat so early in his career. I appreciate that Joshua is learning his craft and all of his previous fights have lead him to this point of his career. But we cannot be over zealous about his Knock out record, because the level of the opponents he has faced were pretty basic to say the least.
If Joshua becomes the IBF champion this weekend you have to ask the question, how would he fair against Fury, Wilder, Haye and the other top heavyweights in the division. A lot of people are comparing Joshua to Iron Mike Tyson who was the youngest heavyweight champion in history. If we take a look at Mike Tyson’s career before he snatched the heavyweight crown away from Trevor Berbick in 1986 in a two round demolition job.
You will come to the same conclusion that Tyson did achieve an impressive record of 24-0-24KO’S, against decent opposition. This groomed him into a well prepared contender for Trevor Berbick. But Joshua on the other hand has only been a pro for four years and he has only had 15 fights so far. Which makes him a novice on paper in comparison to Tyson when he fought for the world title for the first time.
This fight between Joshua v Martin reminds me of another fight which took place in London in 1986. I recall watching another heavyweight prospect in the 90’s who had a similar structure to Joshua and their styles were very similar as well. Like Joshua, Frank Bruno was the golden child of British boxing. With an impressive record of 30-1-28 k0’s, Bruno’s down to earth personality and his impressive record embraced the nation. Majority of the boxing experts back then in the 80’s labelled big Frank as one of best heavyweight’s Britain has ever produced. And he was destined to become a world champion.
In 1986 at Wembley Stadium in front of a packed house, Frank Bruno would challenge Tim Witherspoon for WBA title. Like Joshua the bookies believed Bruno was the favourite going into the fight and everyone expected big Frank to KO Witherspoon. Like Charles Martin, Witherspoon looked like a builder in comparison to Bruno’s athletic physique.
Bruno put up a good fight and racked up the early rounds until Witherspoon stopped him in the 11th round. That was the first time Bruno challenged for the world title and evidently he was far from world class. It seems if you are a prospect in the UK the press will place a fighter on a pedistool, which puts a lot of pressure on a fighter. And usually a fighter will start to believe his own hype and begin to take unnecessary risks in his career.
Just because someone has got a high knock out ratio does not mean he will carry that power through the ranks. The better the opposition the longer the fights will last. This is why it is paramount that you have more to your game than a jab and a straight right hand down the pipe. We all seen it before where a puncher faces a world class boxer who can nullify his opponents power. I am not saying that Charles Martin is a world class boxer by any streatch of the imagination, but he does pose a serious threat with his southpaw stance.
It is fair to say you are only as good as your last fight and Joshua had to dig deep against Whyte last December. Although he scored a knock out against his old foe, there is still some unanswered questions about Joshua being the finished article.
I saw a lot of flaws in Joshua’s game which can be exploited when he steps up in class. His lack of head movement, footwork and his predictable shot selection could be his undoing in the future. Regardless of those flaws, he is a good student of the game and I am sure he will make the relevant adjustments as he develops as a fighter
In terms of Charles Martin it’s hard to assess his style due to the lack of video footage online and this is why it’s a gamble to put a 15 fight novice in against the unknown southpaw from America. Martin has slipped under the radar for many years and he is renowned for going into the lions den and coming out victorious. I do not believe Martin will be fazed by 17000 screaming brits at the o2 this weekend, if anything he looks like a person who will embrace the atmosphere.
Judging on what i’ve seen of Martin in his last fight against Vyacheslav Glazkov for the vacant IBF title his style looks very sluggish and, like Joshua he also has a lack of head movement which can makes him an easy target at times. Martin often takes the centre of the ring and his foot work is good for a heavyweight as well. The American southpaw throws a half decent jab to set up his straight left counter from the southpaw stance.
Martin stands at six foot 5inches while Joshua is only an inch taller than Martin. They’ve both have a good knock out ratio but I believe Joshua is more of a technical boxer out of the two. However, Joshua has never faced a southpaw in his professional career and it will be interesting to see how he can adapt to that style.
I think the key element for Joshua in winning this fight is to use his boxing ability that won him olympic gold back in 2012. He cannot afford to go in there and try to blast Martin out like his previous opponents. The last thing Joshua wants to do is to go toe to toe with a southpaw and blow himself out in the early rounds.
If you look at both boxer’s genetic set up, Martin has less muscle density which makes him the favourite over 12 rounds. Although Joshua is very athletic he carries a lot of muscle mass and it’s a known scientific fact, muscle consumes a lot of oxygen.This is why it’s important for Joshua to take it round by round and try his best to reserve enough energy for the home stretch.
In closing, although I would like to see Joshua become the IBF champion this weekend I do not believe it will happen. I hope I am wrong because I would love to see Joshua in an unification match with Tyson Fury. But I do believe the opportunity has come a bit to early for the former olympic gold medalist. And like I said before you only as good as your last fight and his last fight was against a British level fighter who gave him some serious problems.