And just like that, the heavyweight division might be the hottest one in boxing at the onset of 2016. On the eve of the birthday of The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, there were some new developments in the division from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, last Saturday night as well as in London from the O2 Arena.
At the Barclays Center and broadcast live on Showtime, in the semi-main event, limited yet undefeated “Prince” Charles Martin captured the vacant IBF heavyweight title when Vyacheslav Glazkov could not continue in the second round of a scheduled twelve. Glazkov went down from what looked a slip early in the second and then after landing a right hand to the body, Glazkov went down again when he twisted his knee. Later it was found out he tore his ACL. Glazkov beat the count, which shouldn’t have been done, but when asked if he could continue he answered with a negative. By default, Martin was awarded the title. The southpaw Martin seemed delusional in the post-fight interview when he stated he would move Glazkov every time he would land his straight left. Showtime’s Jim Gray made him aware that he actually didn’t land a punch that stopped Glazkov which left Martin a bit speechless. Martin insanity then continued when he actually called out the rest of the division’s champions looking to unify.
The truth of the matter is Martin is not that good. His footwork and balance is non-existent and was in a step up fight against Glazkov. He was built up great by the late Michael King of TV fame and taken to the #1 ranked spot of the federation. If he were to defend against one of the other champions or even one of the top five ranked in each sanctioning bodies, Martin becomes a footnote in the annals of heavyweight history, the second American born southpaw heavyweight champion behind Michael Moorer.
After that anti-climactic end, we got a pretty good scrap between WBC champion Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder and the game Artur Szpilka. The shorter and southpaw Szpilka used head movement and foot work Charles Martin should be envious of to get close enough to score some overhand lefts to the head of Wilder and straight ones to the body. Midway through the fight Wilder was able to control the distance more and began to land his long straight right hand. In the ninth with Szpilka still in the fight it wasn’t a straight right but a right hook flush to the chin that put Szpilka out cold ala Pacquiao. It took Szpilka a couple of minutes to come to his senses.
London saw the return of David “Hayemaker” Haye as he stopped Mark de Mori in the first round after four years out of the ring. Haye says he wants 2-3 more fights and then will look for a title shot. Quite possibly the most exciting part of the heavyweight weekend happened after the Wilder-Szpilka fight when WBA/WBO champion Tyson Fury, who was in the house in Brooklyn, climbed into the ring and got in Wilder’s face. They both vowed to do what it takes to make the fight happen after their respective prior engagements, Wilder’s mandatory versus Alexander Povetkin and Fury’s rematch with Klitschko. That remains to be seen since one that wasn’t in the ring Saturday night was Al Haymon.