Time to get rid of that "Rising Prospect" label. Anthony Joshua now can be called the IBF Heavyweight Champion of the World.
The undefeated knockout artist and 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist stopped defending champion Charles Martin in the second round to capture the IBF belt on Saturday in front of a rousing hometown crowd at The O2 in London.
Joshua, who kept his perfect KO record intact to advance to 16-0 with 16 KOs, earned a heavyweight belt in the fewest number of fights since Michael Bentt beat Tommy Morrison in just his 12th pro match in 1993.
“I’m only one-quarter of the way there,” said Joshua, who has expressed his desire to unify the heavyweight division. “I’m not going to get too carried away because we still have work to do. We have (David) Haye calling me out, Tyson Fury calling me out. I need to keep on pushing if I’m going to maintain at a high level."
Joshua’s one-punch KO power was evident early. After an even first, Joshua floored Martin with a straight right less than one minute into the second round. The southpaw looked stunned and rose to beat the count, but was floored again with another counter right hand just seconds later. That was it for Martin (23-1-1, 21 KOs), who failed to beat the count.
Martin won the belt in January, and now owns the second shortest reign for a heavyweight champion.
“Every heavyweight has power," said Joshua. "It’s just about knocking and staying focused. I told you I would come out and punish him. This is just the reward of it."
|Photo Credit: Matchroom Sport|
Joshua showed great humility in his victory, taking time to praise his opponent.
“There will probably be some negativity that he was easy," said Joshua. "The fact that he was willing to come to London says a lot about Charles Martin.”
On the undercard, Lee Selby survived a second round knockdown to defend his IBF Featherweight World Championship against challenger Eric Hunter in a unanimous decision victory scored 115-111, 116-110, 116-110.
Hunter gave Selby problems early with his speed, slick defense, and counterpunching, but Selby adjusted after several rounds, and slowly took over with his superior work rate.
In other boxing news . . .
Erislandy Lara to face Vanes Martirosyan in rematch on upcoming card
The 154-pound division will take center stage on Saturday, May 21, when Showtime will feature three world title fights in the same division. The venue has yet to be determined.
In the main event, Erislandy Lara will defend his WBA Super Welterweight World Championship against 2004 U.S. Olympian and top contender Vanes Martirosyan in a rematch of their 2012 bout that ended in a technical draw.
A highly skilled boxer schooled in the Cuban amateur program, Lara is considered one of the toughest men to beat in the sport and will look to continue his reign at 154 pounds against the always-game Martirosyan, who is set on becoming a world champion on his second try.
The 32-year-old Lara is a slick boxer who has notched victories over Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, Ishe Smith, and Freddy Hernandez. As an amateur, Lara won numerous titles including a national championship at welterweight, and also participated in the 2007 Pan-Am games. He recently dominated Delvin Rodriguez in June of last year, and followed that up with a third-round stoppage of former champion Jan Zaveck.
Martirosyan won his first 32 fights before fighting Lara to a draw in 2012. The 29-year-old suffered a narrow defeat by split decision in his first world title shot against Demetrius Andrade, but has rebounded with solid victories over Mario Lozano, Willie Nelson, and most recently Ishe Smith.
The undercard will feature brothers Jermall and Jermell Charlo, who will look to make history as the first twins to hold world titles in the same division.
Unbeaten IBF Super Welterweight World Champion Jermall faces his toughest test when he makes the second defense of his belt against former world champion Austin Trout. Jermell will take on exciting contender John Jackson in a bout for the vacant WBC Super Welterweight World Championship.
The 25-year-old Charlo twins are aiming for history against stiff opposition from a former champion in Trout, and an Olympian from the Virgin Islands in Jackson.
A newly crowned champion at 25-years-old, Jermall Charlo grabbed his title with a dominant third-round stoppage of Cornelius Bundrage in September 2015. In his most recent outing, he successfully defended his title with a fourth-round stoppage of Wilky Campfort in November.
His opponent, Trout, won a super welterweight world championship in 2011 by defeating Rigoberto Alvarez. He went on to make four successful defenses, including a career-best, dominant victory over Miguel Cotto in New York. He is currently on a four-fight win streak after knocking out Joey Hernandez in September to set up his world title opportunity.
Jermell Charlo, who is younger by one minute than Jermall, is a highly ranked young fighter looking to get one step closer to a world title shot. He has victories over Gabriel Rosado, Charlie Ota, and Mario Lozano in 2014, and Martirosyan and former world champion Joachim Alcine in 2015.
Since representing his native Virgin Islands in the 2008 Olympics, Jackson has put together an impressive pro career. The St. Thomas-born fighter won his initial 13 fights after making his debut in January 2009. The 27-year-old earned a title shot with a shutout victory over Dennis Laurente in August. Jackson comes from a fighting family, as his father John David Jackson was a world champion, and his brother, Julius, is a contender in the 168-pound weight class.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services