First and foremost, congratulations to 'Prince' Charles Martin, Anthony Joshua and both camps for making this fight happen.
A genuine 50/50 fight for a portion of the heavyweight title between two relative novices. As first defences go, it's a ballsy move by Martin to offer himself and his title up as a target for red hot UK prospect and knockout merchant Joshua to take aim at.
Martin, barely a month removed from winning the IBF title, could have picked easier options.
Joshua will go into the April 9 bout at the O2 Arena London as the bookies' favourite; to be fair he would do against just about anyone.
There are question marks over both fighters given their lack of big time experience; Martin and Joshua have 23 and 15 bouts respectively.
Martin, despite being the current custodian of the IBF title, is seen as more of an unknown quantity. Although entirely blameless, Martin's World title win was questionable.
In the record books, it's logged as a third round TKO of Vyacheslav Glazkov. In reality, very little leather was thrown in the two rounds that preceded Glazkov blowing out a knee in round three (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and for want of better words, Martin was declared champion by default.
Prior to the Glazkov bout, the only names recognisable to the less than hard-core boxing fans on Martin's record are Brit Tom Dallas and Brazilian Raphael Zumbano Love, who is retrospectively recognisable by virtue of being splatted by Joshua. Martin dispatched both by stoppage in one and ten rounds, respectively.
Joshua, for his part, has fought the better competition in his 15 bouts. There's nothing there to set the World alight and you wouldn’t expect there to be after 15 fights, but the competition has been stiffer on paper, and the names recognisable.
Dillian Whyte, Kevin Johnson, Jason Gavern, Michael Sprott, Denis Bakhtov, Konstantin Airich. All decent fighters, who, whilst not reaching the top themselves, (Whyte of course has time to come again) have been there when someone else has and given decent accounts of themselves.
The one common opponent between the two, Zumbano Love, was broken down in ten by Martin, but blitzed in two by Joshua.
The plan for Joshua was never to jump at the first opportunity to win a World title. Given his progress, his name and marketability, providing he keeps knocking people over, a title shot would have been there for him whenever he fancied it. However, sometimes opportunity knocks too loud to be ignored.
Joshua has been transparent with his career plan. He is a work in progress, not the finished article, 18 to 24 months and his timeline would have seen him arrive at a World title challenge via the tried and trusted path of the British crown, followed by European honours, with a couple of World rated names sprinkled in.
Joshua is only two months removed from his toughest test, stopping amateur nemesis Dillian Whyte in seven rounds for the British title.
This has led many in the boxing community to question whether this opportunity has come too soon for the Olympic Champion.
While Whyte extended Joshua beyond the halfway point in a fight for the first time in his career and rattled him good enroute, questions of punch resistance and stamina remain and for many, these should be thoroughly addressed before progressing to the next stage of his career.
The clichés have been wielded like a trusty sword, 'once you take that step there's no going back'!
Whilst these concerns are perfectly valid and the cliché holds water, you have to take into account what you are stepping into and the company you would be expected to keep.
Prior to the announcement of the IBF title shot, Joshua was being linked with every man and his dog. Dereck Chisora, Erkan Teper for the Euro belt (before he allegedly proved to be chemically enhanced), an eliminator with Carlos Takam to face Martin. The list goes on.
Teper and Takam sandwich number 4 rated IBF challenger Joshua in 3rd and 5th place respectively. Chisora ranked 13th. No one would have batted an eyelid if Joshua had lined up any of those three for his next opponent.
Sure people would have commented that Teper can dig, Takam is awkward and Chisora will make him work. But no one would have claimed any of those fights were a step too far too soon.
These names, amongst others are the kind of company Joshua (should he beat Martin) would be expected to keep. They are the same fighters he would be lining up to fight in preparation for an assault on the World title.
Does sticking a belt around Joshua's waist suddenly make this company too hot to handle? Waters too deep for an inexperienced champion to swim in?
In a nutshell, if Joshua wins the title he would be expected to fight the men he was setting his sights on fighting anyway, so where's the issue? The IBF top ten is nothing to lose sleep over.
'He's not ready for the elite'
Elite is subjective, people have their versions of it so I'll give you mine. Elite, World class, whatever label you want to give it is made up of the top ten fighters ranked by the governing bodies, it's that simple.
Yes, we might not agree with them, they might not be a Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson or a Lennox Lewis, but they are the ten fighters deemed the best on the planet by a particular organisation. By that default they are 'Elite, or World Class'
By Elite, of course, people are often referring to the current Champions, so let's take a look at them.
Martin, we've already covered, so we'll move on to WBC champion Deontay Wilder and WBA, IBO, WBO and Ring Magazine champion Tyson Fury.
Wilder and Fury can be jointly surmised, both champions, but both with question marks still over them. Wilder won his title against a good fighter in Bermane Stiverne and showed he had something more to his game other than chinning people.
Remove the Stiverne fight and there's not a huge amount of talent on Wilders thirty-six fight ledger. Despite the noises he makes, he is yet to fight his mandatory, Alexander Povetkin. Wilder has defended his title three times and not looked a million dollars in doing so.
Tyson Fury is the man at heavyweight and rightly so. He went to Dusseldorf and relieved long reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko of his titles in systematic, if not dramatic, fashion, Klitschko barely landed a glove. A fight few gave Fury a chance of winning.
As impressive a feat as it was, Fury may have been the right man at the right time to catch a declining champion; the rematch with Wladimir may tell us more.
Again, remove the Klitschko bout from Fury's resume and there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about. Fury struggled (some thought he lost) in an English title fight with John McDermott, was decked hard enroute to the shot at Wladimir Klitschko by Canadian (by way of Serbia) Neven Pajkic. while former IBF cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham also had him on the deck. It's by no means been a cake walk.
The point I'm making is that Elite is relative, and this 'Elite' people talk of that Anthony Joshua is ill equipped to operate in, isn’t so Elite. Yes, there is a step to take from Dillian Whyte to Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, but it's not quite the gulf it's advertised as.
If Anthony Joshua's mission objective is to prove he has the goods to win a World title, Charles Martin's aim is to both add some validity to the title belt he wears and also prove that he has what it takes to defend it.
If he can beat Joshua, away from home, when most will be writing him off, he will announce himself as a legitimate title belt holder. How he came to be in possession of his World title will be forgotten.
Charles Martin's task is two-fold. Firstly, he has to deal with the enormity of the situation and event. At British title level and after only 15 fights, Anthony Joshua is already a headline pay per view act. Put him in a World title challenge and the circus will go into overdrive and Martin will be put under the microscope.
A career that has to date gone largely under the radar will be catapulted into the limelight, how Martin reacts will be key.
Secondly, Martin physically will be dealing with an animal the likes of which he hasn’t seen. Martin’s career to date seems to have been conducted at pedestrian pace, at best, a canter. That won't happen against Joshua.
Joshua will be coming at him and coming at him hard with the sole intention of taking his head off. You would expect Joshua to show a little more control than demonstrated in his previous fight with Dillan Whyte, where the personal animosity dictated what happened in the ring, but Joshua's objective is and always will be the same. Seek and destroy as quickly as possible.
Martin has a habit of arm punching, throwing nothing punches in bunches in an effort to disrupt his opponent and make openings. He can thump, no doubt about that, when he digs his toes into the canvas he can hit plenty hard enough. Any man of 250lbs who's vocation in life is to punch people in the face can hit hard enough to hurt.
I'm not sure that the pity pat stuff will cut the mustard against Joshua. Joshua is far from bomb proof, Dillian Whyte showed that, but he is also far removed from the level of competition that have allowed Martin to fiddle his way to openings. He will, as they say, have to keep Joshua honest. If you can't do that he will walk through you.
Joshua will have the cards stacked in his favour, there's no doubt about that. He'll be fighting on home soil in front of his own fans at a location he has made something of a fortress. Joshua made his debut at the O2 and has fought there a further five times including his highest profile wins over Whyte and Johnson.
He will have something very different to look at in Martin. A 6'5 southpaw (Joshua is yet to fight a 'wrong un' in the paid ranks) who comes with ambition and a World title to defend. The fact that Martin is relatively unknown is also part of the mystery.
Martin's team have stated that Anthony Joshua will find out just how good their charge is come April.
I think that also goes for the rest of us