Anthony Joshua compares himself to Mike Tyson, predicts annihilation
Two heavyweights vying for a title in the shadows of better-known champions did their best to draw attention to their bout on Monday in a trash-talk driven conference call. Anthony Joshua, who will face IBF titleholder Charles Martin on Saturday at O2 Arena in London, England on Showtime (5 p.m. ET) may have wandered onto forbidden soil, however, when he compared himself to Mike Tyson, boasting of plans to “annihilate” Martin.
Joshua, who is ranked No. 8 by THE RING while Martin is No. 9 at heavyweight, likened himself to Iron Mike before Tyson destroyed Berbick in two rounds in 1986 to become the youngest heavyweight champion ever. Joshua (15-0, 15 knockouts) sees parallels to Tyson’s situation in what seemed like a bit of a reach.
“They put me as the favorite but I’m the underdog,” Joshua said. “I’m the challenger that can come in and annihilate the champion, kind of like when Tyson fought Berbick. Just don’t give Charles Martin a chance and outclass him and that’s what I want to show.”
The 26-year-old Joshua, who won Olympic gold for Britain in 2012, predicted a sixth-round knockout of the southpaw Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs) ahead of their Saturday bout. The 6-6 Joshua also belittled the unheralded 6-5 Martin by refusing to call him the toughest opponent he’s faced.
“No, not yet, not yet. He’s not my toughest opponent yet,” Joshua said, before slightly back-tracking. “But then again, Charles makes fights so it might be a different story come April 9. But right now, looking at Charles, he’s a counter-puncher, he’s laid back. He doesn’t work the full round so it should be a nice, controlled fight. The Dillian Whyte fight (last December)- that was a tough fight. We’re both punchers. That was a tough fight so I don’t think Charles will impose those kind of pressures that Dillian did.”
Martin, a California resident, seemed amused by Joshua’s comments. Martin declared Joshua “not ready” to challenge for his title on the second portion of the conference call. “I’m going to get him right now while I think he’s green,” said Martin, who won the vacant IBF title in January when Vyacheslav Glazov was unable to continue after suffering a knee injury in the third round. “I’m going to take him out. He’s not ready. He’s going to get tired like always does. That’s when I’m going to jump on him. I know I’m going to knock him out.”
Martin added that he doesn’t think Joshua has the skill set to compete with him. “He don’t got no footwork. He can’t box. He can’t move,” Martin said. “Only thing he relies on is power and I have more tools. I have more in my arsenal.”
Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn spoke of his desire to unify the heavyweight division with a bout between Joshua (if he wins) and countryman Tyson Fury, who has a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko in the summer/fall for his RING, WBA and WBO titles.
Hearn talked of the historic significance of an all-Britain heavyweight unification fight if it were to happen. “It might never happen again, absolutely huge,” Hearn said. “Anthony becomes the heavyweight champion of the world and in my opinion becomes the biggest star in world boxing (if he beats Fury) and you will see when it happens.”
Mitch Abramson is a former reporter for the NY Daily News and can be reached on Twitter at: @Mabramson13.