Late Saturday night the former IBF world heavyweight champion Charles Martin went 10 hard rounds with the rising, young heavyweight star Jared Anderson, taking the 23-year-old Toledo native the distance for the first time in paid ranks but getting put down in the 3rd for his trouble.
Anderson is garnering a lot excitement on both sides of the Atlantic, never going beyond 6 rounds before Saturday, battering his opponents and picking up a few trinkets along the way. The future looks bright for “The Real Big Baby.”
But what of his comparatively elderly opponent, what is there to say about “Prince Charles.” At 37 years of age the future does not look so bright for the former champ but he’s still a man with something to offer, as he showed on Saturday night, he’s still durable, a wily and awkward southpaw and even coming in to the bout at late notice he was fit enough to hear the final bell and he can crack with 26 of his 29 victories coming by way of stoppage.
Famed for being one of the weakest heavyweight title holders ever due to his short reign of only 85 days second only to the extremely underrated Tony Tucker’s 64-day reign in 1987, also as an IBF belt holder. This short-lived possession of boxings crowning jewel has cast a shadow over what has been a strong career in its own right.
His short time as the champion of the world was brought to a crashing halt by a young, exuberant and vicious Anthony Joshua in April of 2016.
The whole event was odd, Martin who had just picked up one of Tyson Fury’s vacated belts by defeating the decent Ukrainian, 2008 Olympic Bronze medallist Vyacheslav Glazkov via 3rd round TKO, a bout that saw the Ukrainian slip awkwardly and tear the ACL in his right knee, spent the build-up lecturing the viewers and media of his kingly propositions and told he us he “Walks this Earth like a God.” The complete antithesis of Anthony “Stay humble” Joshua.
On fight night he made his way to the ring, head adorned with a crown made of the finest plastics and replica fur money can buy. He looked truly confident of victory. And then he stepped into the ring and all the bravado in the world could not help him. Wearing golden trunks that simply did not fit him (a fact no one seemed to notice on the night or since) he was busted up and dominated by AJ, getting knocked down twice in the second round and was unable to beat the count the second time. The God king had lost his belt and sadly, perhaps wrongly lost a lot of respect.
Pundits and fans accused the Missourian of lacking ambition and grit, some even labelling him a quitter.
There is no shame in getting beaten by the better boxer but not even trying will lose you lot of fans. The Joshua dynasty started that night by supplanting the house of Martin.
No one would off blamed Martin for retiring there and then, he was never going to get the rematch, he was brought in and reportedly paid an astronomical amount for the Brit to get hold of a world title but he didn’t generate the kind revenue that Matchroom and Eddie Hearn knew was in AJ’s future, Tyson Fury was out of the picture entirely battling morbid obesity and personal issues, Wladimir Klitschko only had eyes for Joshua and Deontay Wider had a plethora of B level challengers to get stuck into. Martin found himself in a very strange position, well played but not well respected. He stayed out of the ring for a full year as he’d become a figure of fun and ridicule. But this was not the end.
The following April Martin made his ring return against the then 37-year-old journeymen Byron Polley, a fellow Missourian who had shared the ring with some decent heavyweights including Glazkov, Aleksandr Ustinov and Luis Ortiz.
Polley was stopped in the 2nd of a scheduled 10 round bout. Though he was back to winning ways it was probably best for the recently embarrassed Martin to keep quiet and stay under the radar, but he is a prince after all and had this proclamation in his post-fight interview “I’m just back to finish what I started. Now I’m back and I’m ready to be undisputed, like my plans were originally, undisputed champ.” You have to respect the confidence, six years on and he’s still trying.
Next up was Michael Marrone a career cruiserweight who had previously challenged the weight jumping Panamanian Guillermo Jones for the WBA cruiserweight title and was knocked out by an old Shannon Briggs in 2015. Martin knocked him out in the 1st round.
Two run outs against overmatched opponents under his belt a shot at redemption was given to Martin in mid 2018 when he was matched against the talented and then highly touted Polish boxer Adam “Babyface” Kownacki. Stepping into the ring on September 8 of 2018 on the undercard of Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter at New York City’s Barclays Centre.
Kownacki was sitting on a record of 17-0 with 14 wins by stoppage and had recently defeated Artur Szpilka and Lago Kiladze was at that point seen as a real up and comer with a fan friendly style.
Martin started very slowly and was pushed back by Kownacki, not strong enough to compete for centre ring Martin was forced to box on the back foot and Kownacki took an early lead on the scorecards. A change in pace in round 3 allowed Martin to start throwing combinations with more confidence and Both men opened up on each other throughout a thoroughly entertaining 10 round bout. Each had something to prove and laid it all on the line in the 10th and final round. Smashing multi punch combinations into each other’s heads and large bodies it was considered one of the rounds of the year for 2018. Martin put his all into the bout but it was not enough as all three judges scored the bout 96-94 in Kownacki’s favour. The former IBF champion thought he had done enough to win stating “I believed I got the win. I did the work on the inside and no one saw that. I did really good work on the inside.” Ultimately the slow start in the early rounds let Martin down but he was right about one thing his inside work was effective. He carried on with “Looks are deceiving. I put up a hell of a fight and I came up just short.” Right again, he put up a great fight and didn’t give an inch. He took his chance for redemption and ran with it.
Sitting the rest of 2018 out Martin returned in 2019, first taking on Gregory Corbin who was utterly outgunned by Martin. Corbin having no real route to victory stooped to dirty tactics and hit Martin below the belt in the 4th and was penalised for this by the referee. Corbin wouldn’t behave himself and was eventually disqualified in the 8th round. Then taking stopping Daniel Martz in the 4th of 10 rounder to close out his 2019.
Gerald Washington was next, a six-and-a-half-foot US Navy veteran and high-level American football player who very nearly made it into the NFL, a real athletic specimen who had been in with real talent like Amir Mansour, Eddie Chambers, Deontay Wilder for the WBC title, Jarrell Miller, Adam Kownacki and Robert Helenius. Martin defeated Washington Via TKO in early 2020.
Martin then took two years off before agreeing terms to return against the Cuban master Luis Ortiz in November of 2021 agreeing to box on January 1st 2022.
Martin started strong, knocking Ortiz down twice early on in rounds 1 and 4 but eventually slowed and was stung by an over hand left and knockdown by quick flurry by the elderly Cuban savant but managed to beat the count and rise to his feet but was quickly knockdown a second time and the referee was forced to stop the action.
Though Martin had given a good account of himself and was up on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
Reeling from another defeat Martin took on former 2004 Olympian Devin Vargas in September of 2022 and won by KO in the 4th of an 8-round bout. And finally, he took on Jared Anderson last Saturday, hitting the deck in the 3rd but fighting his way back into the bout and giving his young opponent the test, he so desperately needed.
All in all, ‘the prince’ has not had a bad career at all, he’s been in with good opposition, fought his heart out and picked up some wins along the way. It’s a shame that the Joshua performance has and will always cast its shadow but Martin should be proud and we as boxing fans should embrace rather than ridicule especially now as he is on his way down the hill and could and maybe should meet some of our home-grown talent on their way up.
If Fabio Wardley carries on his current trajectory Martin would make a good opponent to take the step up against or maybe a return fight for Hughie Fury, Frazer Clarke in two or three bouts time or Martin Bakole. Every boxer has an arc, Martin’s has been redemption!