Jared Anderson, arguably boxing’s most promising young heavyweight, went the distance for the first time in his career with a 10-round unanimous-decision victory over former titleholder Charles Martin on Saturday in Toledo, Ohio.
The judges turned in scorecards that read 98-91, 99-90 and 99-90.
Anderson, a 23-year-old native of Toledo, was competing in his first ESPN main event in his toughest test yet. He accepted the Martin assignment on 12 days’ notice after original opponent Zhan Kossobutskiy was forced to withdraw with visa issues. And Anderson (15-0, 14 KOs) was forced to survive some rocky moments.
The 6-foot-4, 243.5-pound Anderson floored Martin in Round 3 with a jab from the southpaw stance but never came close to finishing him off. Martin, a 37-year-old from St. Louis, rebounded to stun Anderson in the final minute of Round 5 with a flurry of punches.
Martin was also able to buckle Anderson in the closing seconds of the fight, but it was far too late by that juncture after he lost virtually every round besides the fifth.
“I wanted to go the distance; it was my first time,” said Anderson, who fights out of Houston. “I just wanted to make sure that I could go the distance and especially be able to withstand power the whole 10 rounds. He had power until the last round, and I was happy to get the rounds in.”
The fight marked the first time in Anderson’s pro career that he lost a single round and was also his first time hearing the bell for Round 7.
Anderson didn’t deliver the sort of explosive performance he’s become known for, especially in his last two fights, where he put the heavyweight division on notice as a potential future champion. But he did gain valuable experience against a heavyweight gatekeeper.
“I think I took his best shots very well,” said Anderson, who plans to fight twice more in 2023. “I don’t think there was a time in the fight where I looked unsteady or where I couldn’t hold my own. Did I feel like he got me with a good shot and stunned me? No. But do I feel like he got me with a good shot and made me aware? Yes, so I had to readjust and get back to the game plan.”
Anderson scored a second-round TKO of heavyweight trial horse Jerry Forrest in December and followed up with a third-round TKO of George Arias in April. Anderson had finished his past six foes inside three rounds.
“He’s really good. He’s a crafty boxer. Usually, when I catch somebody and hurt them, I can finish them. If they don’t fall, usually I can follow up and put them away. But he is like a little middleweight. He is crafty,” Martin said. “He was able to get out even when he was rocked. He was able to maneuver and get out the way. He’s going to be a champion.”
But Martin (29-4-1, 26 KOs) proved to be a far more formidable challenge. The veteran heavyweight was able to weather the storm against Anderson and test him in ways other opponents couldn’t.
“I took the fight on 11 days’ notice. I did the best I could. He’s a real champion,” Martin said. “He’ll be making his way to the top soon. I’m proud of him.”
Martin won the vacant IBF heavyweight title in January 2016 when his opponent, Vyacheslav Glazkov, blew out his right knee. Martin was knocked out by Anthony Joshua in his first defense and hasn’t challenged for a title since.
Martin did, however, impress in a loss to Luis Ortiz last year, flooring the Cuban twice before Martin was stopped in Round 6. Martin returned to score a fourth-round KO of Devin Vargas in August.