On October 28, Anthony Joshua will defend his two major world heavyweight title belts against late call-up Carlos Takam. Joshua was scheduled to fight in a mandatory defense of his IBF belt against Kubrat Pulev, but the Bulgarian bruiser pulled out with a shoulder injury just 12 days before the fight. This allowed the next highest in the IBF rankings, Takam, to step in and fight for his first major world heavyweight title.
Arriving in somewhat of an ambush-like fashion, the very different pugilist of Carlos Takam – who many consider to be a better boxer than Pulev – now has a chance to catch the unified heavyweight champion off-guard. The real question is: can Takam defeat Joshua?
Takam’s history against the elite-level boxers
The 39-year-old Cameroon-born Frenchman has a strong professional record of 35-3-1 amassed since his December 2015 debut – which includes 37 knockouts. Not the biggest of heavyweights at 6’ 1½’’ in height, Takam’s tactics are to punch with volume and exhaust his opponent. While he does possess a fair amount of power, his tactics have seldom worked against the highest level of boxers.
The two really big names that stick out on Takam’s record in recent years are reigning WBO World champion Joseph Parker and legitimate title contender – should he stay clean – Alexander Povetkin. Against both fighters he pushed on the front foot, landing a lot of strong hits, but eventually lost the fights.
Against Povetkin, Takam came to the middle of the ring to meet the burly Russian in almost every round, volume punching. Povetkin got in many heavy punches, but Takam was able to shrug them off – until a sharp left hook caught him out.
His fight with Parker – which was before the New Zealander won his world heavyweight strap – went the distance, with Parker’s defensive skill set proving to be instrumental in the decision. Takam was on the front foot for the duration, attempting to bully Parker into the corners and make him eat punches, but Parker evaded and countered well.
As Anthony Joshua has said himself: “This guy’s head is like a block of cement.” Takam can take punches and still have the energy to use his fast hands and good footwork to keep himself in the fight. However, when it comes to Joshua, it will take something special for Takam to impose his game plan.
Right now, when you bet on Takam v Joshua, you’ll see Takam as the clear underdog at +1100, and despite the challenger’s iron chin, Joshua favored to end the fight in the second or third round – both at +500 in the odds. Joshua’s targeting a later round due to his lack of specific preparation time for Takam, but the bookies clearly think that the Englishman’s power will be too much for Takam.
Joshua dealt with top challengers before
Carlos Takam has put in decent and quite brave performances against high-end heavyweight boxers before, but Anthony Joshua has quickly dispatched others of Takam’s ilk. Take, for example, Eric Molina. When Molina faced the WBC world champion, Deontay Wilder, he shook the title holder, giving him a fair few scares throughout the fight before it all ended in the ninth. Against Joshua, however, Molina was completely ineffective and crumbled in the third round.
Joshua has faced others who can endure serious punishment also, with both Dominic Breazeale and Dillian Whyte taking him to the seventh round. But, the man who is now atop the boxing world was simply too clinical and too powerful for either of them. He will have also learned a lot from what was easily the best heavyweight bout in a very long time. Against Wladimir Klitschko, Joshua was under pressure, and he was sent to the canvas. He needed to defend and work his way back into the fight. So, if Takam does manage to find a sweet hit on Joshua, the Brit now has the experience to be able to find his way back if needed.
It may take longer than his somewhat trademarked third-round knockout, but bar any major occurrence like a serious injury, Anthony Joshua should come out of this title defense with a 20-0-0 record. Takam is a great boxer who fights with a lot of grit and a lot of heart, but Joshua is simply another class above.