By Charles Brun: Tyson Fury could be defending his lineal heavyweight champion next against former IBF champion Charles Martin on ESPN, according to Mike Coppinger. ESPN reportedly wants the 30-year-old Fury to fight a U.S fighter in his next fight, and the 33-year-old Martin (27-2-1, 24 KOs) is someone that would meet their requirements.
Fury’s last fight against German heavyweight Tom Schwarz failed to bring in good ratings on ESPN last June in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fury knocked out Schwarz in two rounds in a successful defense of his lineal heavyweight title, but the fight wasn’t great television. The American boxing fans were impressed with Schwarz, and failed to show interest despite the huge effort put in my ESPN and Top Rank to promote the fight.
Charles Martin has done little since loss to Joshua
Martin, 6’5″, lost his IBF title three years ago in a second round knockout loss to Anthony Joshua. Since that loss, Martin has won four out of his last five fights since 2016. Last September, Martin lost a close 10 round unanimous decision to Adam Kownacki by the scores 96-94, 96-94 and 96-94. Martin gave Kownacki a good fight, but still wound up losing. In Martin’s four wins, he beat Daniel Martz, Gregory Corbin, Michael Marrone and Byron Polley. In other words, Martin has four wins over second tier opposition since his second round blowout loss to Joshua in 2016.
The perception a lot of boxing fans have about Martin is he lacks the talent to beat top tier opposition; hence, his management have been feeding him lower tier fighters repeatedly the last three years. Kownacki was the one exception to the rule, and Martin promptly lost to him.
There are arguably better American heavyweights than Martin for Fury to fight, but the point is Top Rank Boxing wants to make sure that he doesn’t lose before he faces WBC champion Deontay Wilder in a rematch next February. If Top Rank wanted to attract interest in Fury’s fights, they’d set him up in a fight against Michael Hunter, Filip Hrgovic, Oleksandr Usyk, Joe Joyce or Daniel Dubois. Those guys would have a very good shot at beating Fury, and that’s obviously why those fights aren’t going to happen.
Fury vs. Martin won’t bring in a lot of subscriptions to ESPN+
With Top Rank putting British heavyweight Fury (28-0-1, 20 KOs) on ESPN+ instead of regular ESPN, they’re asking the casual boxing fans to pay $5 to subscribe to the network in order to watch him fight. That’s obviously not going to happen with the casual fans, because they’re not familiar with him, and his opponents are too poor to interest people. Top Rank and ESPN had to do double the work last June in trying to familiarize the casual boxing fans with both Fury and Schwarz, and it was never going to happen. Fury dressed loud on stage, and told jokes like a stand up comedian during the news conferences.
Martin has the size and power to give Fury some problems if he’s able to chase him down and land a big shot. Schwarz landed just one good shot against Fury, and it seemed to stiffen him for a second. Fury was knocked cold by Wilder in the 12th round, but the referee seemed to take his time in making sure Wilder had gone to the neutral corner before he began a count. To this day, there are a lot of boxing fans that wonder why the referee gave a count, because was out cold and laying on his back after eating a right-left combination from Wilder. Referees normally stop the fights at that point, but this one gave Fury the benefit of the doubt and gave him a count. What we don’t know is whether can still take a punch.