Anthony Joshua believes late stand-in Carlos Takam represents a tougher night’s work than Kubrat Pulev who pulled out just 11 days before they were due to clash in Cardiff.
Frenchman Takam has stepped in for the WBA and IBF world heavyweight title fight in front of around 78,000 fans at the Principality Stadium on October 28 after Pulev’s injury.
Unsurprisingly, Joshua describes his new opponent’s situation as akin to finding a ‘golden ticket’. The 28-year-old Londoner also thinks he will have a tougher time despatching Takam than he would have done Pulev, who withdrew with a pectoral injury.
“I first heard about it when I arrived to train on Monday,” Joshua said at his training base at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport.
“There could have been two reactions and one would have been that the whole show is cancelled, that would have been a nightmare for everyone involved. But we have to look at the positive in that we still have a lively opponent.
“And Takam will be harder to knockout because he’s incredibly durable. His style means he’s harder to knockout than Pulev, for sure.”
Bulgarian Pulev had worked his way into the mandatory position for Joshua’s IBF belt so when he pulled out, it was left to Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn to negotiate with the next available opponent.
But Hearn had already struck a deal with Takam in advance so, after a few phonecalls, the show was back on.
“Eddie is very good at what he does and always plans ahead of the game,” Joshua added. “So having Carlos Takam on hold was a perfect situation for us. It deals with the mandatory situation.
“Takam has fought some good people but maybe because he’s not so active on social media, the general public might not know much about him. But he’s definitely a credible opponent and we can’t take our eye off the prize.
“I’m not saying that Takam is going to beat me, I’m saying Takam is not going to come in and lie down in the first round. I think that’s the mindset of anyone who fights because he’s in hostile territory with a lot of people who are not there to support him, so he will think: ‘What have I got to lose?’.
“This is his golden ticket to shock the world.”
Joshua also revealed that his path has already crossed with that of Takam, who hung around at his hotel lobby to deliver a message last summer.
“It was after I fought at The O2 against Dominic Breazeale,” said Joshua, reflecting on the night of June 25, 2016.
“Takam waited at my hotel in reception and said to me: ‘I want to fight you!’. I said: ‘I’ve already had a fight’. I swear!
“It was the Breazeale fight. He came to the fight, then waited for me in reception. I knew who he was. He’s a big unit, 22 stone, he’s a big unit. These fighters are now watching me, so Takam will definitely know my strengths and weaknesses.”
It has been suggested that the late change of opponent – especially considering the stark difference in styles – may pose Joshua an unexpected problem for his clash across the Severn.
But AJ said: “No problem, we never had any Pulev clones come in for sparring, with all this technology now designing an opponent just like Pulev.
“No, Rob trains me to work on my own strengths and weaknesses, no matter who it is we fight I think I will always be in the best shape, not worrying about who I’m going to fight.
“Every fight leads somewhere provided I win so I need to defeat Takam to move to a positive start to 2018. That’s the mindset, I have to defeat Takam.” (The Independent)