- Twitter doesn't all agree that “Prince” Charles Martin is doing the right thing in making his first title defense of the IBF heavyweight strap against young gun Anthony Joshua in England, Joshua's home turf, on Saturday.
Poppycock, I say.
In an age where risk aversion is more the norm than one could've imagined in really every era since the Marquis' rules were adopted, the St Louis born Martin is taking some flak from fans who have gotten used to too many pugilists seeking high reward for low risk fights.
Martin manager Mike Borao, a protege of the late promoter Cedric Kushner who lives in New Jersey, told me he wants fight fans to see this Martin move with a depth of appreciation. “Charles is very confident,” he said. “As the manager it is my job to balance the risk versus reward. As a fighter, he's thinking really one thing…becoming a superstar. He doesn't see this as a risk! And the entire team believes Charles wins against Joshua. Charles' strengths match up with Joshua's weaknesses.”
Martin has acclimated to the time difference, having arrived in England the weekend of March 26-27. In promo videos put out by the Joshua crew and seen on US cabler Showtime, Martin has come off as a confident sportsman. His sparring in Cali, overseen by Henry Tillman and Jamal Abdullah, got him into beast mode. Malik Scott and Joe Hanks were among the name hitters who gave him work. “Listen, Charles wants to fight the best. To be the best, you have to fight the best. I'm still surprised with some people saying that maybe he should have taken a softer touch. It's not in his DNA! You become great fighting fights like this. It's a credit to Joshua, too, for taking this with only 15 fights under his belt.”
Joshua is seen as the favorite, if you are reading the buzz out and about. So, if and when Martin gets the W, the adulation should be transferring to the title holder. “Like he's been saying, he wants to take Joshua's fan base. Mike, he wants to be great. He doesn't want to be average. And I know boxing fans will give Charles credit for taking this Joshua fight right out of the gate. He's fighting a guy who's supposed to be the future of the division, in his back yard. That shows his confidence, and the sort of confidence that should be possessed by the heavyweight champion!”
My take: I am hoping I don't hear from the Twitter sages if Martin loses, on what he “should have” done. He is doing what has been seen traditionally as the right course for these fighters who we look to to own traits we weren't graced with. And if he wins, I can picture Martin versus Tyson Fury, in Wembley. I would like that, if only to help encourage any of the new breed who are shying away from old paradigm, and not signing on for those sternest tests of their mettle.