Carlos Takam has occupied an even more imposing position than this.
The veteran heavyweight from Cameroon took a tougher fight than what awaits him Thursday night on about 10 days’ notice in October 2017. Takam performed well enough in that 10th-round, technical-knockout loss to then-unbeaten champion Anthony Joshua to make him completely comfortable accepting this 10-rounder versus Jerry Forrest with the same small amount of time to prepare.
“Carlos has fought the top, top level of competition,” Joe DeGuardia, Takam’s promoter, told BoxingScene.com. “He’s been in this situation, particularly with the Joshua fight. He has done this before and he’s got that mentality that you like in a fighter, that he’s been able to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities when they arise. It’s crucial for a fighter to stay in shape, do what you’ve gotta do and be ready to take advantage of the situation.”
The 39-year-old Takam (38-5-1, 28 KOs) didn’t hesitate to step in when Jarrell Miller failed another performance-enhancing drug test and left Forrest without an opponent June 27 (https://www.boxingscene.com/jarrell-miller-tests-fails-another-ped-test-out-july-9-fight-with-jerry-forrest--149807). The Henderson, Nevada, resident had been training to battle Colombia’s Oscar Rivas on July 14 in Las Vegas, but that ESPN main event was scrapped nearly a month ago because Rivas reportedly suffered an elbow injury.
DeGuardia admits he liked the Rivas bout more for Takam than the Forrest fight, especially since Forrest (26-3, 20 KOs) is a southpaw and Rivas (26-1, 18 KOs) is an orthodox boxer. Takam’s promoter just hopes his fighter can consistently apply pressure on Forrest and wear him down in a 10-round encounter ESPN will air from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
“Jerry Forrest, it’s not an easy fight for Carlos,” DeGuardia said. “The guy has got a difficult style and a much different style than Oscar Rivas. And at this stage of Carlos’ career, I like the Rivas fight much better. But certainly, it’s a great opportunity for Carlos. It’s good for him because it can lead to many other big things. Forrest has a great record, but he hasn’t fought the same type of opposition as Carlos, by any stretch of the imagination.”
Takam is the most accomplished, experienced opponent Forrest will have faced since the Newport News, Virginia, native made his pro debut in August 2012. The longtime contender’s past four losses came against Alexander Povetkin, Joseph Parker, Joshua and Dereck Chisora.
Jermaine Franklin ended Forrest’s 17-fight winning streak last July 12, but DeGuardia feels Forrest deserved to win a 10-round fight he officially lost by split decision.
“I think Takam is in a good position anyway because the boxing people all know what kind of quality fighter he is,” DeGuardia said. “That puts you in position to get into a quality fight of any kind. And with this particular fight, being the main event, being featured on ESPN, being able to be seen by the entire U.S. on basically an open platform like ESPN, it puts him in a very good position with a win over Jerry Forrest, who’s a young heavyweight for all intents and purposes .
“And the fact that he’s taking this on quick notice, if he performs the way I’m expecting him to perform, it puts him in the top echelon of the heavyweight division. Obviously, he’s fighting a guy with a difficult style, a guy who’s quick, a guy who’s a southpaw, and a guy who I believe won the Franklin fight. I’m hopeful that he’s gonna be able to do a great job and prevail on Thursday.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.