Tricky night or business as usual for heavyweight king Anthony Joshua?

AJ Heavy

Anthony Joshua’s rapid rise to superstardom has been a joy to watch. Ever since he won gold in the London Olympics in 2012 he has conquered all who have stood in his way. 19 professional boxers have stood in the opposite corner to the man mountain and not a single opponent has gone the distance. In Cardiff Joshua will face a different situation. Kubrat Pulev pulled out due to a shoulder injury and Carlos Takam takes his place. A change of opponent can sometimes cause problems but can the regular outcome continue for Joshua?

Physically all the advantages point to a hard night for the new opponent. Joshua comes in at his career heaviest of 254 pounds. Promoter Eddie Hearn suggested that the undefeated Brit would come in lighter than he did in his last fight against Wladimir Klitschko. The thinking behind the theory is that Joshua looked too heavy and when he was hurt by Klitschko it took him longer to recover due to the extra muscle he was carrying. With AJ coming in even heavier it suggests that he feels he can blast Takam out and does not expect the fight to go deep.

By contrast Takam weighed in at 235 pounds. However, he also looked in unbelievable shape. While he may be giving away 19 pounds in weight he still carries a threat. He has claimed 27 knockouts in 35 wins and only been stopped the once by Alexander Povetkin in 2014. His last defeat came by way of unanimous decision in 2016 against Joseph Parker. Styles make fights and Takam is powerful and will certainly have a go at AJ.

The difference in weight is understandable when you look at the difference in height between the fighters. Joshua holds a 5 inch height advantage. He has the option to use that in the early stages if there are any thoughts that Takam could cause him problems. Given the way Joshua usually operates he may not give his opponent that chance. At heavyweight any mistake is costly and with Joshua’s power and boxing skills he will want to get the job done as soon as possible.

Takam and Pulev are completely different fighters. Pulev is more technical due to his vast experience at amateur level. Takam is more physical and with him lacking in height against Joshua it could play into his hands. If he can bob and weave and close the distance between him and the champion he will be able to throw powerful hooks to the body and may even look for the uppercut on the inside.

There is no doubt Joshua will want to keep the fight at distance. Using his jab to set up his straight right hand to soften up Takam. Once the damage is done on the outside and Takam takes a backward step the AJ onslaught will start. That is perhaps the perfect night for the World Champion.

How much can the French challenger bring to the table? The feeling in the casual section of AJ’s fans is not much. But the pundits believe it may be more difficult than that.

“Takam has to get in close, get to his chest, throw that right hand that he’s got to land on the temple of AJ because he’s showed that he keeps that left hand low, too low at times.” (Jonny Nelson, Sky Sports pundit)

While Nelson concedes that Takam is a threat to Joshua’s unblemished record he goes on to say that the fight is more about AJ. He goes on to say that if he plays to his strengths he should win the fight. If he is sloppy and underestimates the replacement opponent it could be a difficult night for the champion.

“I know Carlos Takam quite well because we had him in for sparring on a few occasions when David Haye was world heavyweight champion, in my opinion he’s potentially more of a threat than the original opponent Pulev” (Adam Booth, trainer of Ryan Burnett)

As he says above, Booth knows more than most about Takam. He thinks that underestimating the new opponent could have horrific consequences. The point is valid. Takam will challenge and test Joshua’s chin if he is given the chance were as Pulev would look to take the fight deep and out-box the Brit.

Heavyweight boxing is at times unpredictable. The main thing to take away in the build up in this fight is that if Joshua has taken this seriously, trained well and performs well on the night – he wins. Going further than that if he ticks all those boxes he wins by knockout. Anything less than that he may find something difficult as Takam has all the attributes in his locker to cause an upset.

The card features some other good fights that will showcase British boxing talent, so the card is not reliant on the main event. Joshua’s heavyweight rival Dillian Whyte will be in action against ‘the Nordic Nightmare’ Robert Helenius. Katie Taylor features on the card attempting the win the WBA World lightweight title against Anahi Sanchez who vacated the belt after missing weight yesterday. The Irish Olympic gold medallist can still win the belt but her opponent cannot.

Also Frank Buglioni fights Craig Richards, Dave Allen is in action and will fight Lenroy Thomas and Kal Yafai goes in against Sho Ishida.

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Alan Brown

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