NEW YORK (March 29, 2016) – The SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL presentation of the IBF Heavyweight World Championship between undefeated American titlist Charles Martin and fellow unbeaten British Olympic Gold Medalist Anthony Joshua will air live on SHOWTIME at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 9 from The O2 in London.
An encore presentation will air later that evening on SHOWTIME EXTREME at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
The SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL telecast will be hosted by Brian Custer with analysis from Al Bernstein and Paulie Malignaggi. Coverage of the event will be provided by Sky Sports with the play-by-play call from Nick Halling, analysis from Jim Watt and Carl Froch and post-fight interviews from Andy Scott.
The SHOWTIME telecast will include extensive highlights and analysis of the IBF Featherweight World Championship between defending titlist Lee Selby and American challenger Eric Hunter.
(EDITORS NOTE: Due to a change in the bout order at The O2 in London, SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL is unable to provide live coverage of this bout.)
Martin vs. Joshua is the third of four heavyweight title bouts in five months on SHOWTIME (see details below). The scheduled 12-round matchup is the toughest test to date for both Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs) and Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs), two bombers who boast a combined 94 percent knockout ratio.
Selby (22-1, 8 KOs) vs. Hunter (21-3, 11 KOs) is the second of five scheduled featherweight title bouts in 2016 (details below), a lineup showcasing many of the world’s best 126-pounders aiming to unifying one of boxing’s deepest divisions.
“The heavyweight division is experiencing an incredible resurgence, and the featherweight division is rife with compelling matchups,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President & General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports. “Martin vs. Joshua is a can’t-miss showdown between a newly minted American champion and one of the sport’s fastest-rising stars. And Selby vs. Hunter has major implications in the talent-rich division. We are proud to work with Matchroom Sport to deliver these pivotal matchups to the U.S. audience.”
“I’m the Heavyweight Champion of the World, and that’s why I have no problem traveling to England for my first title defense,” Martin said. “I only want to fight the best, and I plan on knocking Anthony Joshua out and taking his fans and the belt back with me.”
“The O2 is going to be rocking on April 9 and the U.S. fans are in for a treat when they see Charles and I clash,” Joshua said. “Credit to him for coming over after calling me out, but he doesn’t know what he’s getting himself in for. I am going to show all my power, all my speed and all my accuracy to put on the best display of my life and become the Heavyweight Champion of the World by knocking him out. I’m delighted that fans in the U.S. will be able to witness it.”
“After a great experience in my first defense in Arizona against Fernando Montiel, it’s nice to be back in front of my home fans at The O2 in London,” Selby said. “It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere with a 20,000 person sold-out arena. Hunter has talked a lot of trash and I’m looking forward to showing him what it’s like at the world championship level. He’s in for a shock.”
“He’s got a belt I want, and that’s all I know about him,” Hunter said. “My team knows more about him than I do. It’s their job to come up with a game plan. My job is train and get ready to perform my best. I can adjust to anything in the ring. I’m just here at the gym working my butt off to get the job done. I’m going to be more focused than I ever have been for this fight.”
The 6-foot-5 Martin won the IBF championship on Jan. 16 when Vyacheslav Glazkov suffered a knee injury in the third round of their vacant world title fight. In capturing the IBF belt, Martin, of St. Louis, Mo., became just the sixth southpaw heavyweight champion in boxing history and the second current American heavyweight titlist.
While Martin has stopped his last 13 opponents and was the aggressor against Glazkov, the undefeated champ remains virtually untested. His first title defense and initial start outside the U.S., will take place at what is expected to be a pro-Joshua arena in London that sold out in just 90 seconds. The 29-year-old Martin, who is trained by U.S. Olympian Henry Tillman in Big Bear, Calif., will be Joshua’s first professional southpaw opponent.
Joshua had a standout amateur career that culminated with an Olympic Gold Medal at super heavyweight in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Since turning professional in July 2013, the 6-foot-6 Joshua has steadily climbed through the ranks.
One of boxing’s most promising prospects, Joshua is coming off consecutive victories over previously undefeated opponents. In his last bout, the 26-year-old was pushed past the third round for the first time in his career. Joshua defeated Dillian Whyte via seventh-round knockout on Dec. 12. Now, Joshua returns to The O2, the site of his professional debut and five of his 15 professional bouts, in a bid to join Tyson Fury as the second current reigning British heavyweight champion.
Joshua is also looking to become the sixth super heavyweight Olympic Gold Medalist to win a heavyweight world title. If successful, he will join an impressive group that includes George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko.
Born in Barry, Wales, Selby won his world title with a dominant technical decision over previously undefeated Evgeny Gradovich in May 2015. The slick boxer made his first title defense in his U.S. debut last October, capturing a unanimous decision over former three-division champ Fernando Montiel.
The 29-year-old owns a slew of victories over previously unblemished fighters including Joel Brunker, Ryan Walsh, Viorel Simon, Corey McConnell and Stephen Smith. He has won 18 straight since the lone blemish of his career, and six of his last eight victories came over previously undefeated opponents.
Hunter, who will take a four-fight win streak into his initial start outside the U.S., has always possessed an abundance of talent. Before turning pro, the Philadelphia native was an outstanding amateur and an alternate on the U.S. Olympic team.
The fast-handed 29-year-old has scored some solid victories as a pro, and his biggest enemy in a nine-year career has been himself – the switch-hitter doesn’t always keep his composure in check and allows his emotions get the best of him. Two of Hunter’s three losses came by disqualification, the last coming via DQ in 2013 against Mike Oliver for hitting at the break. The other came against Luis Franco in 2010, when he had a point deducted in the second and was DQ’d in the eighth after repeated low blows.
If Hunter can keep his hot head from getting him in trouble, he’s confident he can upset Selby and join Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell Jr. as U.S.-born world champion at 126 pounds.
2016 Heavyweight Title Bouts (NOTE: all on SHOWTIME))
· Jan. 16 WBC Heavyweight World Championship Deontay Wilder vs. Artur Szpilka
· Jan. 16 IBF Heavyweight World Championship Charles Martin vs. Vyacheslav Glazkov
· April 9 IBF Heavyweight World Championship Charles Martin vs. Anthony Joshua
· May 21 WBC Heavyweight World Championship Deontay Wilder vs. Alexander Povetkin
2016 Featherweight Title Bouts (All on SHOWTIME with the exception of June 25 “SHOWTIME BOXING on CBS”)
· Feb. 27 WBA (Super) Featherweight World Championship Leo Santa Cruz vs. Kiko Martinez
· April 9 IBF Featherweight World Championship Lee Selby vs. Eric Hunter
· April 16 WBC Featherweight World Championship Gary Russell Jr. vs. Patrick Hyland
· June 25 WBA (Regular) Featherweight World Championship Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares
· Summer 2016 WBA (Super) Featherweight World Championship Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton
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