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Charles Martin ready to REPLACE injured Joshua against Pulev

Charles Martin Kubrat Pulev

By Tim Royner: Charles Martin is ready to step in and replace the injured IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua for his title defense against mandatory Kubrat Pulev this year. If Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) is unable to defend against the #1 ranked IBF contender Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), then #2 IBF rated contender Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) is ready to replace him.

The former IBF heavyweight champion Martin, 34, lost his title to Joshua four years ago in a second-round knockout on April 9, 2016, at the O2 Arena in London, England. Since that loss, the 6’5″ Martin has won five of six fights to put himself in position to challenge or the IBF belt.

Joshua suffered a left knee injury recently while running during his training for his fight against Pulev. AJ is getting around with the help of crutches and a knee brace. Additionally, he’s been told to rest the knee for five weeks. Joshua was seen on crutches and without a mask this last weekend in a rally in the UK.  He doesn’t look like he’s going to be able to train for a while.

If the knee lingers into months and or the remainder of 2020, then the International Boxing Federation will need to consider stripping Joshua. The IBF would be inviting criticism if they let the injured Joshua sit on his title for the remainder of 2020 without defending it.

Charles Martin Kubrat Pulev

Martin ready to fight Pulev for the IBF belt

“If Joshua is injured and can’t defend on a mandatory basis, and the title becomes vacant, we’ll fight Pulev for the vacant title,” said Martin’s promoter Leon Margules, President of Warriors Boxing,to Sky Sports.

It’ll be up to the IBF if they want to let Joshua hold onto their belt without defending it for a prolonged period. It would be better for the title to stay alive with Martin and Pulev battling for it while Joshua slowly heals. If Joshua needs surgery on his injured left knee, he could be out of action for a long time.

Martin lost to Adam Kownacki by a razor-thin 10 round unanimous decision on September 8, 2018, in Brooklyn, New York. Since that defeat, Martin has come roaring back with three consecutive wins over Daniel Martz, Gerald Washington, and Gregory Corbin. Martin has looked better than ever, and he’s made improvements in his game from the fighter that lost to Joshua four years ago.

Pulev would be a winnable fight for Martin, who is a better puncher than him, and the more skilled offensive fighter. That’s probably not the fight that Pulev wants, but he won’t have any choice if the IBF strips the injured Joshua and orders him to face Martin.

Right now, it’s a waiting game. The IBF is going to give Joshua time to let his left knee heal, but they’re not going to let him sit on their title indefinitely without defending it.

Martin is ready to go against Pulev

“Charles Martin is fit, ready, and waiting for that opportunity. We’ve been waiting for the opportunity for a long time. We were…thinking to ourselves that the IBF would then vacate the IBF title because he didn’t do his mandatory, said Margules on Joshua.

Hopefully, the IBF makes a decision soon on the status of Joshua and his title. It’s essential that Joshua not hold the IBF title hostage while he’s out of action with a knee injury. If Joshua isn’t ready to go soon, then the IBF will need to make the right decision and strip him of the strap.

Charles Martin Kubrat Pulev

There are rumors that Joshua, 29, has had the knee injury since his rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr. on December 7 last year in Saudi. If this is a lingering problem that won’t go away for Joshua, then he might need to look at having an MRI and X-ray done on his left knee to rule out any torn cartilage.

In the meantime, Martin can face Pulev for the IBF strap, and then the winner can face Tyson Fury if AJ is still on the shelf. Joshua has the popularity to be able to swing back and meet the Martin vs. Pulev winner for the IBF title if he’s stripped of the belt.

This isn’t a situation where if Joshua is stripped of his IBF title, he’d need to wait years before he’s given a chance to regain it. Pulev and Martin want to fight Joshua. But what they don’t want is to sit out of action for the remainder of 2020, waiting for Joshua to heal slowly.

Martin will need to fight with a lot more confidence against Pulev than he did against Joshua if he wants to capture the IBF belt.

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