By Keith Idec
Anthony Joshua’s trainer doesn’t think they were left with an easier fight once Kubrat Pulev pulled out with an injury last week.
Carlos Takam, Pulev’s replacement, presents a different challenge and in some ways is a tougher challenger, according to McCracken. Cameroon’s Takam (35-3-1, 27 KOs) is 2½ inches shorter than Bulgaria’s Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs) and has two more losses on his record, but will be more aggressive than Pulev would’ve been when he encounters England’s Joshua on Saturday night in Cardiff, Wales.
Switching opponents so late in training camp also made matters difficult for the 28-year-old Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs).
“It wasn’t ideal,” McCracken said during a press conference Thursday in Cardiff. “When I spoke to [promoter] Eddie [Hearn], it wasn’t ideal because we trained for the best part of three months for Kubrat Pulev. But I think, without a doubt, [Takam is] a live opponent, he’s a dangerous opponent. I watched him, Takam, against Povetkin and obviously in the Joseph Parker fights. Very competitive, very difficult to beat.
“And the main thing is the fans will be the winners because Pulev [is] very experienced, very cagey, technically, and until I think Anthony caught him it would’ve been a cagey affair. It’s a different fight with Carlos Takam. I think he’s coming in, he’s gonna come in and give it a hundred percent. He’s gonna believe in himself and he’s gonna go for it. And I think the fans will be the real winners Saturday night. I think you’ll see a spectacular fight and I think you’ll see a great performance from AJ.”
Takam, 36, has been knocked only once in 39 professional fights. Russia’s Povetkin (32-1, 23 KOs) stopped him in the 10th round of their October 2014 bout in Moscow.
The Joshua-Takam match will headline a nine-bout card at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, where a capacity crowd of roughly 78,000 is expected. Their fight will be televised via pay-per-view by Sky Sports Box Office in the United Kingdom (£19.95) and Showtime in the United States (5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.