Charles Martin believes that Anthony Joshua is a “shell” of the fighter who was once the world’s leading heavyweight.
Joshua’s first reign as heavyweight champion began when he stopped Martin in two rounds in 2016 in what represented the American’s first defence of the IBF title.
He equally impressively proceeded to win both the WBA and WBO titles, and in what is considered his finest night to retire to great Wladimir Klitschko.
If not since the punishment he took against Klitschko in 2017, then as a consequence of his unexpected defeat by Andy Ruiz Jnr and successive defeats by Oleksandr Usyk, Joshua has lost the identity that once made him so destructive.
Where he was once aggressive and explosive he has become hesitant, and is struggling for confidence, and at the age of 33, despite not having had a particularly punishing career, he appears a fighter in decline.
He was unconvincing while outpointing Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena – a venue he would previously have been considered too big for – in April, but speculation persists that in December in Saudi Arabia he will fight the heavy-handed Deontay Wilder.
Martin’s career, in some respects similarly, has never recovered from the night he was beaten by Joshua, but having observed his former rival he told ProBox TV: “He does look a little different since he took some Ls. He still has the heart for it – the love for it – you can tell.
“Losses change people, man, you know? Some people like me are crazy enough to get back in there and fucking be better than before, and you got guys – it hurts ‘em, and they carry it with ‘em on their sleeves.
“They fucking changed me. They change you. They changed me – for the better. Everything down to my diet is on point. I got everything on point – everything’s on point. I’m so proud of myself – I never thought I’d be this disciplined in life. I don’t know how to change now.
“It’s devastating. It crushes you. But you gotta keep pushing forward, and just know that the past is in the past for a reason. You can’t change it; you can’t bring it back. So you might as well keep going forward.”
The 36-year-old regardless insisted that Joshua can return to being one of the world’s most feared heavyweights – on the proviso, however, that he can conquer his troubled psyche.
“It’s all in the mind,” he said. “With the right mindset and the right things to motivate you, anything’s possible. The mind is everything. People with experience would know that. You gotta fucking put it up here [points to head]. If it’s not here, it’s not there.
“He did what he was supposed to do [against Franklin]. He got the win.