American heavyweight Charles Martin is ready and willing to face Kubrat Pulev if IBF champion Anthony Joshua is forced to withdraw through injury (Match betting – Anthony Joshua 1/10, draw 33/1, Kubrat Pulev 6/1).

Joshua (4/9 to win by KO/TKO/DQ/Technical Decision) was expected to be extremely active in 2020 after a mixed 2019 following his first professional defeat at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr.

The Brit relinquished his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO titles after a seventh-round TKO loss against Ruiz in June 2019 but regained the belts courtesy of a unanimous decision against the Destroyer in December.

After getting back to winning ways Joshua was tipped to face Deontay Wilder in a unification bout. However, the American became sidetracked by his battle with Tyson Fury.

A unification showdown appears to be some way down the track for the time being and Joshua is being lined up for a mandatory defence of his IBF strap against Pulev.

Prior to the suspension of boxing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, negotiations were underway for a fight over the summer.

Talks are presently on hold and the prospect of a meeting between Joshua and Pulev appeared to suffer a further setback last week.

AJ was pictured on crutches over the weekend while out in his hometown. The 30-year-old subsequently confirmed that he had sustained a minor injury while out running and he has been advised to rest for four weeks.

Despite being unable to train, promoter Eddie Hearn insists his man will still take to the ring to face Pulev before the end of the year.

However, Martin, who lost the IBF belt to Joshua in 2016, is ready and waiting to step in if Joshua suffers any further complications.

Martin bounced back strongly after that loss at the O2 Arena, winning five of his following six fights to become the IBF number 2 ranked heavyweight.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Leon Margules, president of Warriors Boxing who promote Martin, said: “If Joshua is injured and can’t defend on a mandatory basis, and the title becomes vacant, we’ll fight Pulev for the vacant title.

“Charles Martin is fit, ready and waiting for that opportunity. We’ve been waiting for the opportunity for a long time.

“We were actually reading all about Joshua-Fury, and then thinking to ourselves that the IBF would then vacate the IBF title, because he didn’t do his mandatory. He’s already had exceptions.

“We would then demand the IBF vacate the title and allow Pulev to fight for Joshua’s vacant title.

“I think Charles could beat Pulev. I think Charles could beat Joshua if they fought again.”

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