It seems as though in recent weeks in the sport of Boxing, the trend has become "Homecomings." In that a fighter who has achieved notoriety in the sport coming back to their respective hometowns to compete before a crowd of enthusiastic supporters. While most of the time such scenarios are usually designed as a showcase for said fighter before a significant fight down the line, there are times when a "Homecoming Fight" turns out to be more competitive than some may have anticipated. One needs to look no further than WBC Jr. Welterweight world champion Regis Prograis' recent return to his hometown of New Orleans, LA to defend his title against Danielito Zorrilla for an example of a fight with the design of a showcase, which ultimately turned out to be a close call for the champion, who retained his title via twelve round split decision.
The next "Homecoming Fight" of significance will take place on Saturday, July 1st in Toledo, OH as undefeated Heavyweight prospect and "Knockout Artist" Jared Anderson will return to his hometown at the Huntington Center. An event that can be seen here in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+. A slight wrinkle emerged however, when Anderson's scheduled opponent, the undefeated Zhan Kossobutskiy was forced to withdraw from the bout due to visa issues. While Kossobutskiy, much like Anderson, is an unbeaten "Knockout Artist," the opponent who has emerged to step in to face Anderson, one might argue now could potentially be a more significant test for the young unbeaten prospect. Charles Martin.
Martin, a one time IBF Heavyweight champion of the world, is by far the most experienced opponent that Anderson, who has scored knockouts in all fourteen of his professional fights, will have faced in addition to being the first former world champion he has been in the ring with. Although Martin has taken this fight on little more than a week's notice, he has remained a top contender for several years since losing the IBF championship to Anthony Joshua in April 2016. In thirty-three professional fights, Martin has a record of 29-3-1, with 26 Knockouts.
What this fight will come down to in this observer's eyes will obviously center on how prepared Martin is in taking this fight on a narrow timeframe. Martin does have some punching power, but he is a crafty boxer/puncher, who when he is at his best, has proven to be a difficult fighter to combat for many opponents. The red flag that some might see with Martin is there are times where he has been caught and in fact, two of his three losses did come by stoppage against Joshua and Luis Ortiz.
Some may recall that in his fight against Ortiz on New Year's Day in 2022, Martin was seemingly in control of that fight, having scored two knockdowns of Ortiz during the course of that fight before being caught and stopped by Ortiz in the sixth round. The reason yours truly brings this up is much like Ortiz, Anderson has the type of punching power that can turn a fight around and end a fight suddenly. If Charles Martin is to have success in this fight he needs to be aware at all times and be wary of getting caught as the possibility of getting caught by the explosive power of Anderson should be taken seriously.
What Martin does have going for him going into this fight is his experience. As devastating as Anderson has been throughout his career up to this point, he has yet to be extended beyond four rounds in his career. The strategy for Martin though obviously easier said than done, should be to try to extend Anderson into the middle and late rounds of this scheduled ten round Heavyweight bout. Martin must not only find a way to survive Anderson's power early, but must find a way to make him uncomfortable where he will be tested for the first time. It is something that Martin is capable of doing, but it will be interesting to see if it truly is easier said than done. Especially, if under the circumstances in which this fight was made, Anderson attempts to end the fight quickly in thinking that Martin may not be at his best with the limited time to prepare for the fight.
Nevertheless, it is often when a prospect meets a former world champion that often serves as an indicator as to whether or not the prospect is ready for either a top contender or even an opportunity at a world championship. This observer has quietly watched Anderson's progression and while he has been impressive up to this point, I am not quite ready to say that he is ready for such a fight. If however, he performs well in this fight and to be more specific, if he does so after being tested by the crafty veteran and former world champion in Martin, it might be time to think about that possibility.
"And That's The Boxing Truth."
Anderson vs. Martin takes place on Saturday, July 1st at the Huntington Center in Toledo, OH. The fight as well as its full undercard can be seen in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ beginning at 6:10PM ET/3:10PM PT. For more information about ESPN+ including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, and to subscribe please visit: www.ESPNPlus.com.
*Check your local listings internationally.*
*Card and start time subject to change.*
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