By Keith Idec
Carlos Takam has replaced Kubrat Pulev on short notice and will challenge heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on October 28 in Cardiff, Wales.
Bulgaria’s Pulev is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF title, but he suffered a shoulder injury in training camp recently. Pulev pulled out of the fight Monday, which left Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, little time to fight a suitable substitute.
Takam, a Cameroon-born boxer based in France, is the IBF’s next leading available contender and quickly agreed to fight Joshua on 12 days’ notice. Boxing Takam will satisfy the IBF mandatory defense that is due for Joshua.
The 36-year-old Takam (35-3-1, 27 KOs) is the IBF’s No. 3-ranked heavyweight contender, one spot below the second-rated Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs). The top spot in the IBF’s heavyweight rankings remains vacant.
“I received a call from Kalle Sauerland [Pulev’s promoter] late afternoon to inform me that Pulev had injured his shoulder and may be ruled out of the fight,” Hearn said in a statement Monday. “This was later confirmed by his doctor. IBF rules state that the mandatory will go to the next fighter in line, which is Carlos Takam.
“When the Pulev fight was announced I made a deal with Takam’s team to begin camp and be on standby for this fight. When I called them this evening they were overjoyed and good to go. It’s a difficult position for AJ, having prepared meticulously for the style and height of Pulev. He now faces a completely different style and challenge in Takam. This hasn’t happened in his career before, but he is ready for all comers on October 28.”
The 36-year-old Pulev eventually will get the IBF title shot he is due, as long as the 6-feet-4, 230-pound contender doesn’t lose a bout before securing that opportunity. If Joshua continues to win, however, it could take quite some time to reschedule a Joshua-Pulev bout because Joshua also must make a mandatory defense of the WBA heavyweight title before opposing Pulev.
Takam, meanwhile, will walk into enemy territory a week from Saturday night to battle the United Kingdom’s biggest boxing star in Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs), a 6-feet-6, 250-pound knockout artist from Watford, England. A capacity crowd of roughly 78,000 is expected to fill Principality Stadium in Cardiff for their scheduled 12-round fight, which will be broadcast by Sky Sports Box Office (£19.95) in the United Kingdom and Showtime in the United States.
The 6-feet-1½, 240-pound Takam has won two bouts by knockout since losing a 12-round unanimous decision to Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) in May 2016, about 6½ months before Parker won the WBO championship. Takam also has lost by 10th-round knockout to former WBA champion Alexander Povetkin (32-1, 23 KOs) in October 2014 and by eight-round unanimous decision Gregory Tony (then 10-0) in June 2009.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.