It would be easy for Anthony Joshua to argue preparation was not on his side in the wake of his tenth round stoppage of Carlos Takam. After months of anticipation of fighting Kubrat Pulev, he was forced to adapt his approach, less than a fortnight before the bout in Cardiff and fought past Takam to retain his WBA and IBF belts.
Pre-fight, AJ weighed in at the heaviest he has ever been, at 115kg. Opposite Takam’s 106.5kg, he looked much the bigger guy, yet still very lean.
However, in the ring, it could be said he looked sluggish. Against a waspish opponent in Takam, he unleashed 454 punches, of which 152 landed on the Frenchman. The heavyset Joshua set about picking away at an opponent who was two stone lighter and four and a half inches shorter than he. The heavy build of Joshua against Takam’s lean frame can perhaps attribute to his 33.5% punch success rate, where a lighter Joshua may have got the better of his opponent in earlier combat.
Indeed it took four rounds to bring Takam to the ground, and a further six before referee Phil Edwards ended the fight in a controversially premature decision.
Both had encountered blood in the heat of the battle, yet Joshua can lend an ounce of gratitude to Edwards, as his fatigue started to emerge. There were times in this contest where uncharacteristic cracks in his defence were exposed by Takam’s movement and weaving, and this fight surely would have gone the distance had Edwards not stepped in.
The encounter with Takam will need to be analysed very heavily by AJ and his camp if he is looking to unify the division. Such rash decisions may have cost him more dearly had he been in the ring with the likes of Deontay Wilder.
Who Is Next?
Joshua’s first 20 fights have seen him end the challenges of Wladmir Klitschko, Eric Molina and Dillian Whyte. All wins achieved by knockout. In doing so, he now seems to have set his sights on the bigger characters in 2018.
The WBC and WBO belts still elude Joshua, and belts that he will no doubt make an assault on in the new year. Which puts Joseph Parker, as the WBO holder, and Deontay Wilder, who possesses the WBC belt, firmly in his crosshairs.
A showdown with Parker has already been ignited from the pair’s press exchanges. At this point, it is merely respectful words as they attempt to force through a package agreement. But it gives Joshua time to reassemble after coming through the woods against Takam.
Takam himself has good reason to want to see Joshua again, clearly vexed by the manner in which his defiance against the Watford-born tank came to an end. Having gone ten rounds with Joshua on just twelve days preparation, it would interesting to see just what the 36-year-old can do with several months to assemble his arsenal.
For now, Joshua has to review a fight that was a heavy lesson in itself. He will then assess who is next to face him. For 2018, Joshua looks determined to make it his biggest.
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