The Plucky Stand-in is Out Of Joshua’s League

Such is Anthony Joshua’s appeal, a record-breaking 70,000 tickets were snapped up for his latest fight faster than the majority of his early knockout victories.

Cardiff’s Principality Stadium has never sold as many seats in such a short space of time.

This Saturday it’s fight night, when AJ will make the defence of his IBF and WBA world heavyweight title belts against late stand-in Carlos Takam.

Our boxing odds expert Adrian Clarke is here to give us the lowdown on what to expect…

I wouldn’t say it to his face, but when Anthony Joshua told the press this week that he’s expecting this weekend’s bout to last 10 to 12 rounds, I was waiting for the punch line. Surely he was having a laugh?

What I will do is credit the heavyweight hero for keeping a straight face.

While 36-year-old Frenchman Carlos Takam is a bona fide top 20 contender, very little about his history suggests he will be the first man to take AJ the distance. Or get anywhere close.

He did hear the final bell against WBO champion Joe Parker last year, but that was a scrappy affair that didn’t shed either boxer in an especially favourable light. He was beaten on points.

The only other top-level gauge we can draw upon is a 2014 scrap with impressive Russian Alexander Povetkin.

Although Takam landed some tasty blows in Moscow that evening in an enthralling slugfest, he was eventually knocked out clean by the home fighter in the tenth round.

So when Joshua says his opponent’s head is ‘like a block of cement’ I am wondering if he’s forgotten to check out that brutal defeat on YouTube.

Having trained for a bout with Kubrat Pulev – a significantly better boxer with a differing style – it might not be easy for Joshua to adapt his game plan at just 12 days’ notice, but that’s the only negative I can come up with ahead of Saturday.

The Englishman is eight years younger, 11cm taller, with a four cm reach advantage; and as we all know, he also happens to be the quickest heavyweight boxer on the planet.

If rumours that he will weigh in a stone lighter than he did against Wladimir Klitschko are true, we can expect an awful lot of punches to be thrown by the 28-year-old champ, and that might not be something his French adversary (35-1-3) is able to cope with.

To his credit, Takam is not the kind of boxer that will back off and run as a matter of course.

He is brave and likes to stand his ground, trading blows in the centre of ring at close quarters.

His short sharp 1-2 clubs are not too shabby, but I can’t help but think Joshua will beat him to the punch by taking the wind out of him with rib-crunching body shots and terrifying uppercuts.

Against Povetkin, the challenger was vulnerable to uppercuts, and I fear that may be the end of the matter if AJ catches him clean with one in Cardiff.

This is set to be a routine triumph for the champ, who will make it 20 wins in a row, all by way of knockout.

When will he finish his man?

I’d suggest it’s almost certain to be between rounds 1-6 (1/4) but to get value from the odds with Grosvenor Sport we may have to be a touch more precise.

A Joshua victory in Rounds 1-3 is favourite at 6/5, but I’d be happy to take on Rounds 4-6, which offer up more generosity.

Carlos Takam is a ballsy fighter that won’t give up on his dream without giving it a proper go, but ultimately I just don’t see how the smaller, far less talented man will get beyond the halfway mark.

The plucky stand-in is out of his league – and a spiteful Joshua will prove it in front of his adoring fans.

Grosvenor Sport Odds

Joshua to win by KO in Rounds 4-6 (15/8)





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