Britain’s Olympic heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua to fight Charles Martin for IBF strap
Olympic champion gets the chance to add a world title to his trophy cabinet when he faces American IBF heavyweight strap-holder in April
Olympic champion Anthony Joshua will have the chance to add a world title in the paid ranks to his trophy cabinet when he faces IBF heavyweight strap-holder Charles Martin in April.
Briton Joshua, who won super-heavyweight gold on home turf in 2012, is one of the most highly-rated young fighters in boxing having built up a perfect record of 15 knock-outs from 15 fights.
And the 26-year-old, who won the British title in his last fight, will get the chance to add a world belt to his collection on April 9 at the O2 Arena in London.
“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. Not only that, having the chance to fight for it in my home town at the O2 is unbelievably exciting.
“Charles 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.”
Joshua’s assessment of the unbeaten Martin, who has a record of 23 wins, with 21 of those inside the distance, and one draw from his 24 bouts, is perhaps a little flattering.
American Martin, 29, won the IBF belt when Polish opponent Vyacheslav Glazkov retired with an injury from their bout last month after tearing knee ligaments during the fight.
The IBF belt had only become vacant after Tyson Fury stunned Wladimir Klitschko in November to also claim the WBA and WBO titles.
However, there was a rematch clause in the fight meaning Fury could not defend his IBF belt and he was stripped of it, allowing the unheralded Martin to tackle Glazkov for the prize.
Joshua, who stopped bitter domestic rival Dillian Whyte in seven rounds in his last fight to claim the British title, will be the favourite going into the bout despite having only 32 rounds of professional experience.
“Life is all about taking opportunities and when the chance to become heavyweight champion of the world presented itself, there was no holding Anthony back,” said promoter Eddie Hearn.
Victory for Joshua could lead further down the line to a unification bout with Fury, as long as his fellow Briton defeats Ukraine’s Klitschko in the rematch.
The last of the four heavyweight belts, the WBC strap, is currently held by unbeaten American Deontay Wilder, although he will likely start as underdog when defending it against his mandatory Russian opponent Alexander Povetkin, like Joshua and Klitschko a former Olympic super-heavyweight champion.