The Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio witnessed an electrifying ESPN/Top Rank card on Saturday night, headlined by former world titlist Charles Martin and local rising star Jared Anderson in a highly anticipated 10-round heavyweight bout. This fight proved to be a crucial test for Anderson’s career, while Martin faced a make-or-break moment. However, before the main event, fans were treated to an exhilarating showdown between undefeated heavyweights Raphael Akenjiore and Arslanbek Makhmudov.
Makhmudov wasted no time asserting his dominance over Akenjiore, knocking him down twice in the first round. Despite the onslaught, Akenjiore managed to survive. The second round saw Akenjiore being rattled by an explosive uppercut, causing him to hit the canvas once again. Although he showed resilience and got back on his feet, the referee decided to halt the fight, considering the one-sided nature of the bout.
The evening continued with an intense 6-round lightweight clash between Abdullah Mason and Alex de Oliveira. Mason quickly established his superiority in the opening round, landing crisp shots behind a southpaw jab. De Oliveira showed aggression in the second round, but Mason managed to hurt him and ultimately knock him down in the final moments. Recognizing the danger, the referee promptly stopped the fight, declaring Mason the victor.
Finally, it was time for the highly anticipated main event, featuring Anderson against Martin. Anderson, with a record of 14-0, appeared significantly smaller than his opponent, whose record stood at 29-3-1. Martin tried to maintain distance in the first round while Anderson relentlessly pressed forward, reminiscent of George Patton’s relentless pursuit. By the end of the round, Martin had already absorbed several powerful punches.
The pace slowed down in the third round as Martin aimed to frustrate Anderson, hoping to gain the upper hand. However, in the closing seconds of the round, Anderson sent Martin to the canvas, making a definitive statement. Despite Martin’s ability to land punches on Anderson in the fourth round, Anderson displayed impressive defensive skills, avoiding Martin’s notable power.
The unexpected occurred in the fifth round when Anderson faced a barrage of punches from Martin, who seemed to have found his rhythm. Anderson managed to survive the round, but the momentum had shifted. To his credit, Anderson utilized his jab effectively in the sixth round, regaining control. However, Martin still found opportunities to connect with powerful punches.
Both fighters had their moments in the seventh round, but Anderson demonstrated superior performance. This fight had an air of unpredictability, with the possibility of a knockout at any moment or both fighters running out of energy in the later rounds. The eighth round followed a similar pattern, with Anderson displaying more effective combinations, while Martin occasionally found openings to land his punches.
Anderson showcased his skills in the ninth round, putting together impressive combinations. However, Martin caught Anderson with a powerful and clean punch in the closing seconds of the round. As the final round commenced, it became evident that Martin had exhausted all his strategies. Although he had his moments throughout the fight, the victory ultimately belonged to the hometown hero, Anderson. The judges’ scores of 98-91, 99-90, and 99-90 solidified Anderson’s triumph.
The night at the Huntington Center was filled with excitement and anticipation as fans witnessed an unforgettable card. Anderson’s dominance over Martin in the heavyweight showdown proved to be a pivotal moment in his career, while Martin faced disappointment in his do-or-die fight. With thrilling undercard matches and a spectacular main event, the ESPN/Top Rank card at the Huntington Center will be remembered as an extraordinary evening of boxing.