This Saturday, boxing will be on practically all day, from all over the world, as both Showtime and HBO PPV will be on display from London and Las Vegas. First, on Saturday afternoon, Charles Martin will be defending his IBF Heavyweight title against 1 of the young, quickly, rising stars overseas, Anthony Joshua. Then later in that night, Manny Pacquiao makes his return to the ring for the 1st time since his loss to Floyd Mayweather, to square off against Timothy Bradley in the trilogy of their rivalry.
The 29 year old southpaw, Charles Martin (23-0-1 with 21 KOs), has been getting zero respect. Although he is coming into this fight as the champion, no one seems to be giving him much of a chance to walk out as champion. Mainly the reason for the doubt is simply that he has not fought anyone to prove he can beat a top talent. Without counting his last fight, where he won the vacant IBF title due to Vyacheslav Glaskov hurting his knee, Martin’s best win is Alexander Flores, who isn’t even a top 100 heavyweight. This is a true step up for Martin as he will get the chance to prove everyone wrong.
Anthony Joshua has defeated all 15 of his opponents by stoppage. Arguably 3-4 of Joshua’s opponents are better than anyone Martin has cleanly beaten. Now I’m not saying Joshua has been a world beater, but his last domination of Dillian Whyte was very impressive. Joshua is only 26 and has only been fighting as a pro for 2 and half years, but he has a deep amateur background and has been fighting since he was 18 years old. He won a gold medal in the London Olympics in 2012, and now hopes to win his 1st world title in the same place.
Martin has the pro experience advantage, but only by a year, and he didn’t start fighting until age 22. Both guys have power, so this isn’t expected to go past 6 rounds. The only weird styles that could clash in this is Martin being a southpaw, so head butts and stepping on feet always has to be part of the equation. When it’s all said in done, either of these guys can get dropped, but Joshua is the more skilled guy. Based on that fact alone, I’m going with Joshua by 5th round stoppage, which will add to the rapidly increasing amount of UK belt holders.
There’s not much that can be said about the 37 year old Manny Pacquiao that isn’t already known. He’ll be stepping into the ring with a record of 57-6-2 with 38 KOs, although none since 2009, he future hall of famer just wants to show that he still has it. His last fight against Floyd Mayweather left such a bad taste in everyone’s mouth that some say it has set the sport back. No matter what excuse or reason you come up with, Pacquiao did not look like the normal Pacquiao and if he puts on another performance like that, this will likely be the last time we see him in the ring against a top flight opponent.
On the other hand, Timothy Bradley is one of the most respected fighters in the sport. He will be entering the ring with a 33-1-1 record with only 13 stoppages. Bradley was stripped of the WBO welterweight title by choosing to face Pacquiao over the mandatory, which was Sadam Ali, who recently was stopped by Jessie Vargas, the person that Bradley beat to win the vacant WBO title in the 1st place. Although in the record books it says Bradley has a win over Pacquiao, no one that saw the fight believes it, so this will be Bradley’s final chance to get over the hump against Pac Man.
Both Pacquiao and Bradley have 2 of the top 5 resumes in the entire sport, along with guys like Bernard Hopkins and Miguel Cotto. A lot of people have a problem with seeing this fight for the 3rd time, but these elite boxers are so skilled, I could watch them fight 5 times. If you want to see true technical boxing, this is the fight to see. Common sense would say Pacquiao again, but coming off a long layoff, combined with being now age 37, I’m going with Bradley to finally get the win that people can actually give him credit for. Is this event worth the PPV price? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s still a great event.
This day of boxing will probably be the deepest amount of quality fights you will see in any one day this year. With the winners of these 2 monster fights having potential fights against Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Terence Crawford, this day of boxing could lead to some major PPV fights in the future that could reshape the future of the sport.
Will Charles Martin prove everyone wrong? Will Joshua take his place on the heavyweight thrown? Does Pacquiao have anything left? Will Bradley prove to be the best pound for pound fighter in the sport? There is only one way to find out, and soon we will all know where the direction of the sport will be headed, so enjoy the fights.