Hearn challenges Martin to prove he's serious about Joshua fight

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Promoter Eddie Hearn is confident of making a deal that will see Anthony Joshua challenge IBF world heavyweight champion Charles Martin at London's O2 Arena on April 9.

Talks are ongoing with the American boxer's advisor Al Haymon as Hearn hopes to secure home advantage for Joshua's first world title shot.

Hearn admitted that challenging for a world title is ahead of schedule for the 2012 Olympic gold medallist -- but Martin is now the fight Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs) wants next.

"If Martin is really genuine, then I think the fight will get made," Hearn told ESPN. "My gut feeling is Charles Martin fancies the fight and there's a huge amount of money on offer.

"We are in talks with Charles Martin's team, there a long way to go, but he called out Joshua so we have to take it seriously."

Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs), 29, won the vacant IBF belt by third round TKO after Ukrainian Vyacheslav Glazkov injured a knee when they met in New York last month.

Martin, from Carson in California, is also undefeated like Joshua and will earn a multi-million pound pay-day if he agrees to a first defence in London.

Joshua, 26, has stopped all 15 professional opponents and was last seen in action administering a clinical seventh round finish of Londoner Dillian Whyte in December.

Hearn said North London-based Joshua wants the fight but it is now up to the American challenger to agree terms.

""Fighting for the world title wasn't really on our radar at this stage, but we have to take it seriously," Hearn added.

"We are keen to make the fight for the world heavyweight title. It has probably come a couple of fights earlier than we anticipated but you can't turn down this opportunity.

"If Charles Martin is genuine, there's a very good chance it will happen on April 9 and I think we will have answer probably by the end of the week. But there's no deadline, we're not up against the clock, and we know two or three other guys would take the fight if Martin doesn't.

"We already had an opponent in mind and this has arisen so we had to make enquiries. Martin wants a lot of money but there's a lot of money in the fight and there's a big risk for both sides. It's quite a difficult deal to do.

"The conversations are ongoing with Al Haymon's team and we spoke a dozen times yesterday [Monday].

"It really comes down to Charles Martin. He has made the noise and Joshua has basically accepted. Joshua has accepted the fight, that's not the problem, it's whether Charles Martin wants it."

Martin's rise to the status of world champion has been sudden and unexpected.

Manchester's world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was stripped of the IBF belt shortly after he won it -- along with the WBA and WBO titles -- via a shock, unanimous points decision over Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in November.

However, the IBF quickly took their belt away from Fury because he agreed to a rematch with Klitschko -- who had ruled as IBF champion for over nine years -- and Martin battled Glazkov for the vacant belt, with Martin winning after the latter suffered an injury.

Martin's decision will have repercussions for other British boxers.

Whether or not IBF super-middleweight champion James DeGale and IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby fight on the same April 9 bill depends on whether Hearn is successful in luring Martin to London.

Londoner DeGale (22-1, 14 KOs), 29, is due to make a second defence of his world title against little-known Venezuelan Jose Uzcategui (24-1, 20 KOs) while Welshman Selby (22-1, 8 KOs), 28, will defend his belt for the second time against American Eric Hunter (21-3, 11 KOs). Dates for both fights have yet to be confirmed.

"Possibly James DeGale and Lee Selby will be on the bill, but if it's Charles Martin [against Joshua] then it will affect the undercard," Hearn told ESPN.

"Had it been Bryant Jennings it might be different but if it's for the world heavyweight title then 90 per cent of the money will go on bringing Charles Martin over."