On another slow weekend for actual fights, the boxing world has at least delivered another piece of big news. Anthony Joshua will be challenging Charles Martin for the IBF heavyweight title on April 9 at the O2 Arena in London, airing live in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports, and one would have to expect the fight to find a TV outlet in the States, as well.
Joshua (15-0, 15 KO) has been the hottest prospect in the heavyweight division since turning pro in October 2013, a little over a year after winning the super heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. The 26-year-old has knocked out everyone he's faced to date, and only Dillian Whyte, who took Joshua into the seventh round in December, has gone past three rounds.
Martin (23-0-1, 21 KO) was an unknown until just recently, when he got a shot at the vacant IBF belt in a fight last month against Vyacheslav Glazkov. Though the method of victory wasn't exactly what Martin hoped -- Glazkov suffered a serious knee injury and was forced out in the third round -- it was a world title win regardless, and Martin, 29, immediately set his sights on the other big names in the division.
But with fellow titleholders Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder tied up with mandatory obligations against Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin, respectively, and the recently returned David Haye not yet gunning for a world title fight, that left Anthony Joshua as a seemingly outside choice for a big fight. The question became whether or not Joshua and his team at Matchroom Boxing would want to take this sort of risk already, when Joshua is already becoming a clear superstar draw in the United Kingdom.
It's an interesting matchup on both sides, with each man having plenty to lose. A loss for Joshua may not be devastating, but it would certainly hurt. A loss for Martin, while also perhaps not devastating, would probably knock him out of the top level scene in the division as suddenly as he has arrived.