CARDIFF, WALES — Last-minute substitution Carlos Takam proved no match for unified WBA/IBF champion Anthony Joshua, who used his massive size to dominate the inside fighting and score a 10th round stoppage at the Principality Arena.
Takam had a sound strategy of working off the backfoot and seeking to take the fight into the late rounds. Early on, Joshua struggled with cutting off the ring and allowed Takam to wing overhand right counters. Takam also made the champion uncomfortable in the second by leading head first and breaking Joshua’s nose with an unintentional butt.
But at 6’6 and 254 pounds, Joshua’s size began to take its toll. The challenger was lacerated above his right eye by a short left hook. Getting inside was supposed to be Takam’s best chance, but it became a no man’s land where Joshua got off first with right uppercuts and hooks that sent the challenger reeling backwards. Takam went down off such a barrage in the fourth and was later cut above his left eye.
The Frenchman remained competitive and started having limited success as Joshua sought to pace himself. Takam arguably won the seventh and ninth rounds on activity as his overhand right counters forced Joshua to briefly give ground and hold.
In the tenth, Joshua went on the offensive with a right uppercut. A stunned Takam retreated to the ropes while taking several unanswered punches, prompting the referee to quickly jump in amid protests from the challenger.
The win improves Joshua’s record to 20-0 (20 KOs). According to promoter Eddie Hearn, the three targeted bouts for 2018 are WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, WBO title-holder Joseph Parker, and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
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Considering Takam was a last-minute replacement on less than two weeks notice, I won’t be too critical of Joshua’s performance from a technical standpoint. However, his weight and stamina are a growing concern. 254 pounds is a career-high for him and it showed which his decreased punch output over the second half of the fight. The fight was even being fought at a torrid pace. I don’t even expect Joshua to be a high-volume guy due to his muscle mass, but getting in the 245 range would do wonders for his fluidity and deter some of the arm-weariness we see at times.
As for the future, the post-fight presser showed that Wilder likely isn’t next on the cards. Between Hearn and trainer Rob McCracken, there doesn’t seem to be a rush to make the fight, and high importance is placed on keeping all the belts and fulfilling mandatories. Also, it isn’t like Wilder has any leverage — the American slugger won’t even sell-out his November 4 fight in Brooklyn against Bermane Stiverne, while Joshua-Takam just set an closed arena attendance record with 78,000. Joshua has zero reason to travel and can pretty much put Wilder on ice much like Canelo did GGG for a full year.
Expect Parker and Fury (should he return) to get looked at first before Wilder.