PUNCHES IN BUNCHES: CHARLES MARTIN AIMS TO BRING MORE EXCITEMENT, A HIGHER WORK RATE TO THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION
BY JASON BRACELIN
His personality is proportional to the rest of him: big, like the tires on an earthmover, inflated with élan in place of air.
Charles Martin may be a heavyweight, but he strives for the punch output of a much lighter fighter.
In conversation, Charles Martin’s words mirror his fists, both delivered with force and aplomb. The difference: In the ring, his punches are straight; outside of it, he’s throwing verbal haymakers.
On a recent Wednesday evening, Charles Martin (22-0-1, 20 KOs) has just finished a long day of training in the lofty altitudes of Big Bear Lake, California, and his confidence hovers just as high above sea level.
“When you're putting in this kind of work, you’ve got to let people know,” he says, his voice thundering like a storm front. “The way we’re training, what we’re doing up here, it’s crazy, man. We’re training to be superstars. We’re not training to be mediocre jokers. We’re not training to be average heavyweights, throwing one or two punches.”
This latter comment speaks to Martin’s ultimate aim: He wants to ramp up the action in the heavyweight division.
According to Compubox statistics, fighters in this weight class throw an average of 46 punches per round, landing 17.
In a lighter weight class—for instance, 160 pounds—the averages increase to 57 and 18 punches, respectively.
Martin’s goal on fight night is to split the difference between the two divisions.
“I’m going by this new motto: ‘The heavyweight middleweight,’” he says. “This is my new nickname, because I’m going to give you a punch count like a middleweight, I’m going to move like a middleweight, but I’m a heavyweight with knockout power. I’m moving on guys, I’m finessing them and I’m knocking them out.”
Martin’s got the stats to back up his words: in his last outing against Vincente Sandez in September, Martin landed as many punches as his opponent threw en route to a third round KO, his 20th stoppage in 23 fights.
This synthesis of high-volume and high-power punching began when Martin was the boxing equivalent of a sapling among towering oaks.
He got into the sport relatively late, when was 19 years old, tagging along to the gym for fun with the brothers of his first child’s mother.
When he decided to take the sport seriously in his early 20s and compete as a heavyweight, he was small for the division, weighing 200 pounds while going up against guys who were as much as 50 pounds heftier.
And so Martin had to be tactical, find a way to get in quick on bigger dudes, and then elude their power shots, like a Labrador snatching a bone from a Great Dane without getting nipped.
“I learned how to move, move, move first,” he says. “I was using the whole ring, sticking and moving.”
Once Martin beefed up a little bit, though, everything changed—including his opponents' ability to stand upright after getting hit.
Having already honed his footwork and ring command as a smaller fighter in the division, Martin soon developed the power—and confidence—to back it all up.
“One day, I went in the gym and was just like, ‘Bite down. You’re going to hit me? I’m going to stand here and hit you right back,’” recalls Martin, who now fights at nearly 250 pounds. “I started putting boys on their back. I was like, ‘Whoa!’”
To this day, you can hear the pride in his voice when he talks about turning the tables on the competition as an amateur, the bullied becoming the bully in face-swelling fashion.
“I gave a dude an eight-ounce shiner with some sparring gloves on,” Martin remembers. “I hit him with a hook—boom!—he flew out of the ring. He had to wear glasses for a week. That’s when I realized, ‘Oh shoot, I really can do this, man.’
So then I started walking guys down, putting them in the hospital, giving them concussions. When I started putting on weight, I started getting in these boys’ asses, I’m tellin’ you. It was a good feeling, too.”
And while he's not yet a household name, Martin believes he will be soon enough—at least in those households with a video game console.
“When the next boxing game comes out, I’ll be featured on it,” he predicts. “That’s legendary stuff. It’s blowing up for me.”