Shocked. The words uttered on most peoples lips when last week the news broke that Britain’s Anthony Joshua would take a leap of faith into the unknown, a shot a America’s IBF champion Charles Martin. This reaction was expected, and I think both fighters understand why fans have become slightly unnerved by the announcement. Let’s make one thing clear, this was not a knee jerk reaction from either fighter, both have unbeaten records that they aim to protect. Martin has only had the privilege of calling himself the IBF champion for 1 month now, and Joshua has had no major experience at top level competition.
It begs the question, why now? Well for both fighters it seems pretty simple, Joshua wants a world title (that’s why you continue to fight right?), and Martin presumably had quite the handsome financial offer from Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom promotions. So the fighters seem very comfortable with their decisions, however the fight fans are not so sure.
American fight fans make no effort in hiding their feelings for an American Heavyweight Champion, especially after a decade of dominance by you know who. And the feeling of uncertainty has started to creep in knowing that Martin’s first defence is against a 2 time ABA champion, and a man who many have tipped to be ‘the next big thing’ in Heavyweight Boxing. I can’t help but have flashbacks to Darren Barkers climb to the top, after beating Daniel Geale, decided to make his first world title defence against Felix Sturm. Not the best decision in most people’s eyes.
Perhaps the American pugilists are satisfied in the knowledge that should Martin lose, they still have another champion in the shape of WBC title holder, Deonty Wilder. Either way, it has certainly left people questioning……how much has Martin been offered to take this fight.
UK fans are much of the same thought process, however money isn’t an issue here. The first question is can Joshua actually win? Well the general feeling is yes, yes he can. His competition has been tougher in his rise to a 15-0 record and he has a very strong amateur background. However the second question is can he retain the belt?
Vyacheslav Glazkov, the Ukrainian who came so close to his dream of winning a world title, if it not for his unfortunate leg injury, will be the first name in the hat. And then the likes of Teper, Cunningham, Pulev and Stiverne, will all come knocking. And this is purely based on IBF rankings, many of these guys have already had a taste of world level Boxing and know what it takes to fight at this level. Furthermore, no matter the outcome of the anticipated Fury v Klitschko rematch, one of these guys will undoubtedly want a shot at Joshua.
I guess the old age expression, ‘time will tell’ is quite fitting here. However I still ask myself, why now?