Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua had been busy preparing for a mandatory defence of his IBF and WBA heavyweight titles against Bulgarian challenger Kubrat Pulev but that fight was scrapped just two weeks before fight night in Wales. An untimely injury to the visiting challenger has forced ‘AJ’ to alter his preparations for a last-minute replacement, in the form of French Cameroonian puncher, Carlos Takam.
The experienced veteran will enter the ring in Cardiff on Saturday night in front of almost 80,000 fight fans as a huge underdog in the heavyweight title showdown.
So brutal and exciting was the fashion of Joshua’s defining 11th-round knockout victory over Ukrainian legend Wladimir Klitschko in April earlier this year, that he has become the leading light in the sport’s heaviest division. This growing respect for the young champion is such that the more experienced Pulev was also expected to fall to Joshua’s power.
Despite Pulev’s late injury setback threatening to disrupt the whole event, Joshua’s Matchroom promoter, Eddie Hearn, was quick to get a replacement in place for the show on Welsh soil. A fight which will eclipse the great Calzaghe nights of the past as well as the famous heavyweight title fight between Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno all those years ago.
Cameroonian-Frenchman Takam has vast experience from a long-standingglove trotting career, and was also an Olympian for his native African nation. Despite this pedigree he looks set to become another Joshua victim this coming Saturday night.
In the betting and odds for the Joshua vs Takam boxing match, the hard-hitting and undefeated champion is a promising 13/8 to stop his latest stand-in challenger inside rounds four to six at the Principality Stadium.
On a night of action that features three world title fights, including Joshua’s heavyweight match-up, Ireland’s boxing queen Katie Taylor is also aiming to make a statement and reach the pinnacle with a famous triumph over WBA female lightweight titlist Anahi Sanchez.
Joshua has enjoyed a truly illustrious rise to boxing stardom since bursting onto the scene, following his impressive 2012 Olympic Gold medal victory in London. He showed glimpses of talent during that distinguished amateur background, but no one would have guessed the swiftness of his coming of age in the professional ranks.
At only 28 years of age, he has become arguably the biggest name in the sport, alongside the likes of Mexico’s Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin.
Sky Sports’ deal with American broadcasters Showtime has further stretched his popularity and appeal across the pond, and a future clash with United States-born fellow heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder would be a mammoth pay-per-view event in both countries.
That would likely occur next year on American soil, but first, the popular British champion must deal with his latest and current threat in Takam this weekend. To look ahead too far ahead would be dangerous.
The 36-year-old opponent has already lost three times throughout his career as a pro, with those losses coming against current WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker, controversial Russian challenger Alexander Povetkin and Frenchman Gregory Tony.
He also possesses a draw with Ireland-based Cuban Mike Perez and a victory over Tony Thompson, who beat David Price twice, on his record as well.
All the signs point towards a 20th successive KO for Joshua on Welsh territory, with it just being a matter of how long Takam can keep the beast at bay this weekend.