By Jake Collins (@MelancholyFolly)
Well, who would have thought Carlos Takam would go on to more or less sell out the Principality Stadium! That’s the reality of the situation and if we’re honest I think the majority of the crowd there will be as equally ignorant to who Takam is as they were with Kubrat Pulev. As far as fighters on a couple of weeks’ notice go, Takam is an excellent replacement. Quite why he is so high on the IBF rankings (outside of an Inter-continental trinket) I’ll never know, but that’s for another day of questioning the almost arbitrary world of boxing organisation rankings.
Takam is here and – according to Hearn – he has been training as a backup this whole time. I approach that with a little scepticism as I must confess I’ve not known this to be a customary measure and haven’t seen any evidence of Takam so much as showing up at a gym, not that it really matters. The bookies give Takam a considerably lower chance of upsetting Joshua (not that they ever had it likely for Pulev either), but he isn’t a bad fighter at all. He shouldn’t be getting a world title shot right now but I would argue his past accomplishments trump that of quite a few guys in talks of getting title shots. He holds a solid win over Tony Thompson and really ought to have got the nod against Mike Perez, albeit one not in the right frame of mind. His two losses in this decade were by no means disgraceful either. He gave Joseph Parker a close run not so long ago, though ultimately losing. He also had a very close fight with Povetkin before he was wonderfully stopped in the 10th. This doesn’t justify him getting a world title shot but like I said, as a replacement it’s perfectly decent. I still think Pulev is a better fighter than Takam, however. I wouldn’t say Takam has any stand out qualities, just pretty solid fundamentals and he seems to always make his opponents work. He goes to the body pretty well, so if he is to cause Joshua major trouble then this is where it’ll come from.
His real weakness will be his size. At 6’1 he’ll be dwarfed by Joshua and Joshua will of course want to make that size count. Takam is going to want to try to get on the inside and work Joshua there, but he might have a hard time doing so. The fight with Klitschko will have been an invaluable learning experience for AJ. Unless you have a cast iron chin, I think it’s important to get hurt at some point in your career to show you’re capable of bouncing back. If you’re mentally capable of doing that I think it can go a long way to honing you as a fighter. I was surprised Joshua got up from Klitschko’s right hand in the sixth. Yes, a younger Wlad probably gets him out of there afterwards but it’s merely conjecture for now. I picked Klitschko to win, even this faded one, so Joshua confirmed his legitimacy as a top Heavyweight. We know what he is about, we have done so from the start. He has pretty fast hands for his size and really good power, though his one punch power isn’t as powerful as Klitschko’s was for example. His foot movement looks to be improving too.
That being said, I still think Joshua has plenty of flaws. When he gets hurt his body seems to lose energy for an entire round and his movements become laborious. He eventually recovers well but against a more prominent finisher this could well be exposed, especially given how easily you can draw that left hand away from his chin. Heavyweight doesn’t currently have a pristine roster of technical talent if we’re honest; the vulnerability of the current division is what makes a lot of these fights interesting as opposed to the high levels of fistic display. I don’t think Takam is the man to exploit any of Joshua’s problems at all. I think this goes past 6-7 rounds as Takam is a reasonably tough guy but will likely just get worn down by Joshua’s sheer size. To put it bluntly, Takam is a decent fighter but Joshua is just bigger and better.by