Danny Flexen discusses if former IBF champion Charles Martin works as Tyson Fury next opponent before a rematch with Deontay Wilder
With a WBC title rematch provisionally booked for February 2020 if both champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury – who looked unlucky to only draw win December having twice risen from the canvas – win their interim fights, who the Brit meets in the autumn is important. We know Wilder is going to fight Luis Ortiz again in what is a dangerous return, but early rumours that Fury would likely meet disgraced Jarrell Miller failed to lead to anything concrete, perhaps because the American’s six-month drug-related suspension only ends in mid-September. The ban, issued by the WBA, is not binding but the opprobrium directed at Fury and his team if they were to openly ignore it is probably more trouble than it’s worth.
It is known that co-promoters Top Rank and their US broadcast partner ESPN want Fury to face an American in his second fight on the network, after he destroyed an outclassed German in Tom Schwarz in June. It has recently been suggested that former IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin could step in. So, does he fit the bill?
On the surface, Martin is damn near perfect. He is American (tick box), tall (at 6ft 5in, only two inches shorter than Wilder) and has been active, fighting twice already this year, both wins. He is also a former belt-holder and has name recognition both in his home country and the UK, where of course he ceded his title to Anthony Joshua in 2016. He has an awkward, open style that may prove messy early on, but could lead to the type of highlight-reel knockout Fury lacks on his record. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he is hugely unlikely to derail Fury’s plans to rematch Wilder.
While no one wants Fury to lose and thus miss out on the Wilder return, it would make sense to see him tested more than he was by Schwarz – not only for the fans’ benefit but also his own; it may well have been the negligible quality of his two comeback opponents that stopped him placing an exclamation mark against Deontay the first time around. Furthermore, Martin is a southpaw, not orthodox like Wilder and nothing about his form, either before or after the Joshua destruction, suggestion he can hang with “The Gypsy King”. A close decision loss to Adam Kownacki last year illustrates his level and indeed his Polish conqueror would perhaps be a better choice.