It’s big fight time, which means Peter Wells of Boxing News and Views is here to give his official Joshua vs Takam preview and prediction.
The only dramatic storyline heading into this weekend’s Pay-Per-View show, featuring boxing’s most recent Heavyweight star, has been a late change of opponent.
But even with number 1 mandatory challenger for the IBF portion of Anthony Joshua’s two world titles, Kubrat Pulev, pulling out with a muscular injury, there has been little in terms of groans of disappointment. That is far less to do with Carlos Takam not being the worst downgrade, and more down to the lack of hype in the first place.
That is not Joshua’s fault, nor Eddie Hearns. Mandatories are a part of the game that will become more familiar to the casual fans that take note when AJ enters the ring. Sadly this enables those who do not understand the concept of mandatory challengers to outlandishly criticise Joshua 19-0(19KO’s) and boxing itself, albeit the latter deserves some of the blame for denying us the fights we really crave.
Takam 35-3-1(27KO’s) has mixed at world class, but has on both occasions come up short. His most notable win came against an aged Tony Thompson, while losing on points to WBO ruler Joseph Parker – prior to Parker claiming world honours – and losing via late stoppage to the previous drug test failure Alexander Povetkin – so make of that what you want.
So outside of a technical knockout to a potential juiced up world class operator, Takam is as tough as they come. But while he will prove a tough nut to crack, that may also contribute to a lack of punches flowing the other way.
Concentration has been key in training camp for Joshua, and it will need to be so again in the ring. Takam will stick around, and remaining patient will be critical.
Take out the first two or three rounds, and then the feeling is that Joshua can finish this contest when he wishes. Once he turns up the heat, a referee’s intervention may not be far behind.
This could spread into the second half of the fight, but the pick is for the IBF and WBA champion to close the show before the halfway point.
Takam’s guard will be breached, and after a wobble towards the ropes, Joshua can prove his point. The longer he drags it out, the harsher the reviews will be after the fight, and bad reviews are not what anyone wants when they are as bad a star as Joshua. With that in mind, Joshua will bring an end to proceedings in round 5 of this 12 round contest.
The undercard has ultimately been dealt a blow itself with injuries, as both Callum Johnson and Lenroy Thomas have been ruled out on fight week.
But in the co-feature, all engines are set for Kal Yafai 22-0(14KO’s) to make another statement on the world scene.
In a scorching hot Super Flyweight division, the classy Birmingham fighter may be in need of a big statement in defence number 2 of his WBA crown.
The likes of Juan Francisco Estrada, Naoya Inoue and Srisaket Sor Rungivisai have all made waves this year, and with unbeaten Sho Ishida in front of him, it is time for Yafai to do the same.
Ishida 24-0(13KO’s) has not mixed at the same level, but his 5’8” frame makes him ridiculously tall for the division. Holding a 4inch height advantage will make this a tough one for a boxing specialist like Yafai.
But if Ishida shares similarities with so many other Japanese fighters, then Yafai will have no trouble finding his range against his challenger.
A brutal battle is likely to steal the show, with Yafai controlling much of the action with his quicker hands. Ishida could be pulled out late, but the pick is for Yafai to take this on points.
Dillian Whyte and promoter Hearn have been extremely vocal about a clash with Deontay Wilder, and with a win on Saturday he will be perfectly set in line to meet the WBC Heavyweight champ.
But first he must get past his toughest opponent since Joshua in Robert Helenius 25-1(16KO’s).
But the visitor’s bubble was burst when being stopped by Johann Duhaupas last year, and he could submit to a similar fate with Whyte in Cardiff.
Whyte 21-1(16KO’s) can look lethargic very often in fights, but expect him to pick up his level of performance for this one. He can wobble Helenius before finishing the job in the 8th of a dominant performance.
Callum Johnson’s withdrawal is a blow for what could have been the fight of the night. He was set to meet Frank Buglioni 20-2-1(15KO’s) for the British Light Heavyweight title, but now it will be the Super Middleweight prospect Craig Richards to put his unbeaten record on the line.
Richards 10-0(4KO’s) must be given huge credit to taking on such a challenge, risking his perfect record when he is considered one for the future under the Matchroom banner.
Richards can make a fight of it for 6 or 7 rounds, but eventually the late call up combined with Buglioni’s strength, he will wilt in the final third of another exciting fight involving the popular Buglioni.
Meanwhile Katie Taylor will need to summon all her amateur pedigree to claim her first world title when she meets WBA Lightweight champion, Anahi Esther Sanchez 17-2(9KO’s). Taylor 6-0(4KO’s) can win the title on points.
Joe Cordina, Joshua Buatsi and Lawrence Okolie all feature on the undercard, while David Allen should beat late replacement Scott Saward on points as he further awaits the anticipated rematch with Lenroy Thomas.