By Paul Mason (@PaulMason1986)
Saturday night at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff sees Anthony Joshua defend his WBA (Super), IBF and IBO Titles against late notice substitute opponent, Carlos Takam, after original opponent Kubrat Pulev suffered a training injury and was forced to withdraw from the contest. Sky Sports Box Office are the British broadcaster, while Showtime pick up the rights for the USA. Here I preview the bill in the Welsh capital.
Anthony Joshua (19-0, KO19) v Carlos Takam (35-3-1, KO27) – 12 Rounds For The WBA(Super), IBF & IBO World Heavyweight Titles
The Anthony Joshua show goes on this Saturday, despite the withdrawal of mandatory challenger, Kubrat Pulev. While this isn’t a problem for fans just wanting to see Joshua, it is slightly disappointing that this is still a box office attraction. Carlos Takam is the next cab off the rank in the IBF rankings, however, it’s unclear how he has built up to his current lofty position with the organisation.
After a stellar amateur career, culminating in the Gold Medal at the London 2012 Olympics, Anthony Joshua turned professional in October of 2013, and duly knocked out Emanuele Leo inside a round at the O2 Arena in London. Paul Butlin, Hrvoje Kisicek and Dorian Darch were all despatched in two rounds each from October 2013 to February 2014, as Joshua toured all parts of the UK, taking in England, Scotland and Wales. After knocking out Hector Alfredo Avila in Glasgow in the first round, Joshua met Matt Legg on the massive Carl Froch v George Groves rematch at Wembley Stadium. Another first round knockout was banked with a devastating uppercut. Former World Title challenger Matt Skelton followed in two rounds in Liverpool, before Konstantin Airich (TKO3) was vanquished in Manchester. This lead to a challenge for the WBC International Heavyweight Title against Denis Bakhtov back at the O2. Only two rounds were needed to lift the title. The experienced Michael Sprott was then stopped in a round at the back end of 2014, Jason Gavern was knocked out in three, and Raphael Zumbano Love was stopped in two in Birmingham in May 2015. Three weeks later Eddie Hearn then decided a step up was needed, and put “AJ” in with the experienced and never before stopped former World Title challenger Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson on the Kell Brook v Frankie Gavin bill. Joshua passed the test with flying colours, stopping the American within two rounds.
Next up was a challenge for the Commonwealth Heavyweight Title, against fellow unbeaten foe, Scotland’s Gary Cornish. Cornish had no answer to Joshua’s power and the bout was over within a round before it had even got going. This lead to a Sky Sports Box Office debut, and grudge match against his former amateur conqueror Dillian Whyte. The O2 was again the venue, with the British and Commonwealth titles on the line. Joshua was tested and even hurt for the first time, but eventually came through, stopping Whyte in the seventh of a bruising contest.
Joshua then became the beneficiary of the mess that occurred following Tyson Fury’s points win over Klitschko in Germany in November 2015. Fury was stripped of his IBF title for failing to agree to defend against the mandatory challenger, Vyacheslav Glazkov. As a result of this, Charles Martin, the next available challenger, won the vacant belt by beating Glazkov, when the Russian suffered a leg injury and the fight was stopped in the third round. Three months later Martin cashed in his belt for a large payday at the O2, defending his newly won crown against Joshua in his first defence. Martin was essentially a sacrificial lamb for the Joshua juggernaut to take off, and did exactly as expected in succumbing to defeat inside two one sided sessions. Joshua became IBF champion in just his sixteenth fight.
Joshua has made three defences since, firstly against Dominic Breazeale in June 2016. In a slightly subdued than normal performance, Breazeale was stopped in seven. In his last fight at the end of last year, Joshua effectively marked time on a mooted clash with Klitschko by knocking out Mexican American Eric Molina in three. “AJ” and Wladimir Klitschko took to the ring after the fight to talk up the future clash and the stadium super-fight was made for April this year.
In a modern great Heavyweight clash. Joshua floored the giant Ukrainian great in the fifth, only to suffer a knockdown of his own, the first in his career. Joshua did well to come through the adversity, and eventually caught up with the ageing Klitschko, dropping and stopping him in the eleventh round of a classic.
In Carlos Takam, Joshua will be facing a divisional gatekeeper at best, but a different challenge all together from Pulev. The France based Cameroonian has a solid enough record, beating some badly faded forces along the way. His defeats have all been when making the step up, something which is likely to happen again this weekend.
Takam turned professional in December 2005, and was unbeaten up until June 2009 when Frenchman Gregory Tony outpointed him over eight rounds. Takam rebuilt with five straight stoppage wins, and after a points win over Samir Kurtagic, he then stopped faded South African, Frans Botha in eleven rounds. Three fights later, he stopped another faded former contender in American Michael Grant, this time in eight rounds in France. After a three round knockout win over Jakov Gospic, Takam took the step up, and travelled to Canada to take on the unbeaten Irish based Cuban, Mike Perez. The two fought to a majority draw. Five months later came Takam’s best result to date, a wide points win over former World Title challenger Tony Thompson in France for the WBC Silver Title.
This lead to Takam having to then go to Russia to take on Alexander Povetkin, the former WBA Champion. Although Povetkin was out landing Takam throughout the contest, all three judges had the bout level after eight rounds. However Povetkin scored knockdowns in both rounds nine and ten to see the fight stopped in his favour, and hand Takam a second loss.
He again rebounded with three straight wins, but against low level opposition. Knockout wins over Marcelo Luiz Nascimento (KO4), Britain’s own Michael Sprott (KO5) were followed by a win on points against George Arias in Italy. Next up was an assignment in New Zealand, where Takam faced Joseph Parker in a World Title eliminator. In a competitive fight, again Takam came up short, dropping a unanimous decision.
Marcin Rekowski (KO4) and Ivica Bacurin (KO2) have been the victims in Takams latest comeback, and he was already on standby incase Pulev withdrew, which is exactly what has happened.
I see Takam coming forward in straight lines and being brave to the point of stoppage. Initially Joshua may have to adjust to his new opponent, but I expect him to stop the tough Takam just over halfway. A corner retirement is a possibility.
The undercard features two World Title bouts. Birmingham’s Kal Yafai (22-0) defends his WBA Super Flyweight crown against Sho Ishida (24-0) in a battle of unbeaten fighters. This could again be a tough nights work for Yafai, but I expect him to come through on the cards handily enough, especially given Ishida is yet to venture outside of his native Japan.
Katie Taylor (6-0, KO4) goes for World Title glory in only her seventh fight, when she challenges the Female WBA Lightweight Champion, Anahi Esther Sanchez (17-2, KO9)from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sanchez makes the first defence of her belt that she acquired only last month is a stoppage win over Cecelia Sofia Mena.
An interesting fight at Heavyweight takes place for the WBC Silver Title as Dillian Whyte (21-1, KO16) takes on Finland’s Robert Helenius (25-1, KO16). This fight all depends on which fighters turn up, I feel that Whyte will take this one on the cards.
Another man with a late notice change of opponent is British Light Heavyweight Champion, Frank Buglioni (20-2-1, KO15). He was scheduled to meet Callum Johnson for the British and Commonwealth Titles. Johnson has withdrawn, so in steps Crystal Palace’s Craig “Spider” Richards (9-0, KO3). This is an intriguing fight, but I feel that Buglioni may have too much know-how at this stage in Richards’ fledgling career.
There is still scheduled to be a Commonwealth Heavyweight Title fight between Lenroy Thomas and David Allen, a rematch of their turgid and messy affair from May this year, which Thomas took on points. However, this is up in the air, as there is speculation that Thomas may be fighting on the November 4 Deontay Wilder undercard, with the rematch to be pushed back to the December 17 Bellew v Haye II bill. Nothing has been confirmed though as of yet, and we await further news.
Joe Cordina (5-0), Lawrence Okolie (4-0) and Joshua Buatsi (2-0) will all feature on the card.
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