By Michael Rosenthal
Anthony Joshua: The IBF, IBO and WBA heavyweight titleholder won his workout … er, fight on Saturday in Cardiff, Wales. Soon, if things fall into place, we’ll have something about which to get excited.
Carlos Takam gave Joshua more trouble than one would’ve expected, as the stubborn Frenchman made Joshua work before being stopped (prematurely?) in the 10th round.
Takam deserves credit. The native of Cameroon fought on only 12 days’ notice yet, with both eyes bloodied, landed some meaningful blows, broke Joshua’s nose and seemed on the verge of becoming the first to take Joshua the distance.
Motivation – or lack thereof – on Joshua’s part also might’ve been a factor. I mean, how do you get up for a 36-year-old late replacement (for the injured Kubrat Pulev) who lost Alexander Povetkin and Joseph Parker?
Joshua’s weight – 254 pounds, the most of his career and four more than he weighed against Wladimir Klitschko – might mean his body is evolving as he gets older. It might also mean that he wasn’t quite as committed in training because of the opposition.
Still, Joshua nearly shut out Takam – winning every round on one card and all but one on two – and scored his 20th knockout in as many fights. In other words, it was a mismatch.
The ending might’ve come a tad too soon. Referee Phil Edwards stopped the fight at 1 minute, 34 seconds of Round 10 after Joshua landed a few hard punches. Takam (35-4-1, 27 KOs) probably deserved a little more time after his spirited effort. And the crowd of 78,000 at Principality Stadium certainly wanted a more spectacular KO than that, as their boos indicated.
Those aren’t good enough reasons to allow Takam to take unnecessary punishment when the outcome of the fight was already settled. Thus, it was hard for me to get riled up.
Now we can look to the future. Deontay Wilder fights his replacement opponent, Bermane Stiverne, next Saturday in Brooklyn, New York. If Wilder wins – as he did the first time he fought Stiverne – we’re one step closer to the heavyweight fight we really want to see: Joshua vs. Wilder, which would electrify any venue in the world.
And promoter Eddie Hearn, who handles Joshua, mentioned the names Joseph Parker (the WBO titleholder) and Tyson Fury as possible opponents for his star fighter in the coming year.
Let’s hope Hearn can make any of these fights happen next. None of us can get up for an opponent like Carlos Takam.
The best fighter on the Joshua-Takam card was Khalid Yafai, perhaps the most talented boxer in the United Kingdom. Yafai (23-0, 14 KOs) handily outpointed Sho Ishida (24-1, 13 KOs) in the second defense of his WBA junior bantamweight title. The scores were 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112. Ishida hadn’t beaten a top-tier opponent but had a perfect record and was a Japanese titleholder. Yafai is ready to face one of the big boys in the deep division. I don’t know if he beats the likes of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Juan Francisco Estrada, Carlos Cuadras, Roman Gonzalez, Naoya Inoue or Jerwin Acajas but he can give any of them a run for his money. I, for one, would love to see him try. … Dillian Whyte (22-1, 16 KOs) easily outpointed Robert Helenius (25-2, 16 KOs) on the Joshua-Takam card, which keeps White in position for another sizeable payday. Helenius, once thought to be potential force in the division, could be finished as an elite heavyweight at 33. … Juergen Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs) deserves kudos for outclassing Rob Brant (22-1, 15 KOs) in the opening round of the World Boxing Super Series on Friday in Schwerin, Germany, Braehmer’s home country. The former light heavyweight titleholder, who hadn’t fought at super middleweight in more than a decade and lost to Nathan Cleverly in his most recent fight, made the risky decision to move down to 168 pounds for the tournament at 39 years old. And while Brant was largely unproven, some considered him a dark horse in the competition. Braehmer won 116-112, 119-109 and 118-110, a loud statement that the German has some fight left in him. He’ll face Callum Smith in the next round. If Braehmer can find a way to win that fight, he’ll become the story of the tournament. … Moises Fuentes (25-4-1, 14 KOs) demonstrated how to bounce back from a setback Saturday in Mexico City, as he stopped countryman Ulises Lara (18-16-2, 10 KOs) in the first round of their rematch. The former strawweight titleholder had lost a majority decision to Lara in July, Fuentes’ second consecutive loss. He was stopped by Kosei Tanaka last December. Fuentes assembled a new team for his rematch against Lara and it paid off.