Charles Martin On Facing Anderson: Keep Barking Up That Same Tree – Be Careful What You Wish For


Charles Martin always had a feeling he would land this fight.

The vision of stepping in to face Jared Anderson on just twelve days’ notice wasn’t necessarily in his crystal ball, but the former IBF heavyweight titlist had this matchup on his radar for several months. It’s normally Martin who takes the initiative to challenge other heavyweights, though often with little to no response from his intended targets.

The foundation for this fight—which still happened by luck—began with an out-of-the-blue direct message.  

“It was a couple of months ago, he was in my DMs,” Martin recalled to BoxingScene.com of his first online interaction with Anderson, “He was like, ‘What’s up? We gonna fight?’ He was coming at me like I’m some opponent type sh!t.

“I ain’t even respond to it but I was thinking, ‘Cool.’ That’s when he was on my radar.”

Things changed in a hurry less than two weeks ago.

Both boxers were training for separate fights in July when Martin (29-3-1, 26KOs) received the call for a chance to face one of the sport’s most promising young heavyweights.

Anderson (14-0, 14KOs) was scheduled to face Kazakhstan’s Zhan Kossobutskiy (19-0, 18KOs) this Saturday on ESPN from Huntington Center in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio. Top Rank—who promotes the 23-year-old Anderson—was forced to abandon those plans once it was learned that Kossubutskiy was unable to secure a travel visa in time to proceed with the bout.

Martin was in camp to face Armenia’s Gurgen Hovhannisyan (4-0, 4KOs) in a rescheduled bout targeted for the Errol Spence-Terence Crawford undercard July 29 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The two were previously due to meet on the April 22 Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia undercard when Hovhannisyan was forced to postpone due to injury.

It was around the time of the postponement when Martin heard from Anderson, who was fresh off a fourth-round knockout of unbeaten George Arias on April 8 in Newark, New Jersey. When the opportunity resurfaced in mid-June, the 37-year-young southpaw saw it as his destiny.

“He made the initiative to get in my inbox, contact me and try to get in my sh!t,” noted Martin. “So, once the opportunity presented itself again, I was ready for it and was like ‘Let’s do it.’

“Hell, I was ready the first time. You keep barking up that same tree—be careful what you wish for.”

The fight will be the first for Martin since a fourth-round knockout of 2004 U.S. Olympian and heavyweight journeyman Devin Vargas last September 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Las Vegas. It appeared early enough off-TV to where only a few media members (including this scribe), ringside officials and members of both teams were on site to witness his first win since the pandemic.

Eight months prior, Martin was on his way to a knockout victory over two-time title challenger Luis Ortiz before was twice dropped and ultimately stopped in the sixth round last New Year’s Day in Hollywood, Florida. Martin learned after the fact that he contracted Covid at some point during fight week and which left him bedridden upon returning home.

All told, it left him without a win since a February 2020 one-sided, sixth-round stoppage of Gerald Washington on the undercard of the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder rematch at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The win was his third in a row and fifth in six starts spread out over four years following his second-round knockout defeat to Anthony Joshua in April 2016 to end his IBF heavyweight title reign.

Martin has done everything in his power to make sure his career is remembered for so much more than his worst night as a pro. He even attempted a rematch with the only other fighter to beat him during that stretch.

Adam Kownacki—a Polish slugger based out of Brooklyn—was unbeaten at the time of their September 2018 clash at Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn. Kownacki prevailed by scores of just 96-94 on all three cards in what was easily the toughest fight of his career to that point.

Martin sought a rematch—both immediate and well in the aftermath—to no avail. Such a fight has next to no chance of happening in 2023 or beyond, and certainly wouldn’t mean anything if it did, given Kownacki’s disastrous stretch of four straight defeats including an eighth-round stoppage to Joe Cusumano last weekend in New York City.

Reversing past defeats is now less of a priority than to land the most meaningful fights possible to fulfill the rest of the legacy he wants to leave behind.  The hardest battle he’s endured to get there is the unwillingness of his divisional peers to look his way.

It’s motivated him to always remain in shape and to stay ready for any opportunity—even one that comes on short notice and in a fight intended as a hometown showcase for a pegged can’t miss future star.  

“The guys in my era aren’t trying to fight me anytime soon,” noted Martin. “So, we go and get the guys who actually want to fight us and it happens to be this young, strong fighter who everyone’s saying is it. These are the guys I have to face to once again become champion.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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