Within the last 48 hours, boxing has been hit by the news that Anthony Joshua’s world title defence against IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev has been called off due to an injury suffered by the latter in sparring.
Joshua will instead defend his title on October 28 against Cameroonian-French boxer Carlos Takam. He figures to be a decent replacement opponent. Takam is ranked number number 3 behind Pulev by the IBF. Despite the short-notice, he has been in training since the announcement of Joshua-Pulev as Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn made a deal with Takam’s team for him to be on standby in the event of Pulev withdrawing. This will be Takam’s first shot at a world title and, at thirty six years of age, possibly his last as well. Expect him to come motivated and in good shape.
Takam was a decent amateur, representing Cameroon at the 2004 Olympics in Athens where he was eliminated in the round of 16. He joined the paid ranks the following year and has gone on to carve out a solid pro-career. He experienced an early career reversal in 2009 against then-unbeaten Gregory Tony who has since suffered 7 losses while being relegated to journeyman status. Eleven wins on the trot then followed against uninspiring opposition, including badly-faded versions of Frans Botha and Michael Grant, before a still largely-unknown Takam faced Cuban Mike Perez on HBO in 2014. Perez entered the fight as the favourite, on the back of a punishing win against Magomed Abdusalamov; a fight which ended in tragedy as Abdusalamov suffered severe brain injuries which forced his retirement from the sport and left him permanently handicapped. The physical and mental toll of the fight and its fall-out clearly had an effect on Perez, as he did not look like himself in the ring against Takam and was fortunate to escape with a draw. Were it not for some dubious scorecards, it would have been the best win of Takam’s career on paper. The fight did however bring him to the attention of the boxing world as a legitimate heavyweight contender. He followed up with an easy win against another old-timer in Tony Thompson, claiming the WBC Silver Heavyweight trinket, before facing former titleholder Alexander Povetkin in Moscow. In a very competitive fight, Takam outboxed Povetkin in the early rounds to build a lead on the scorecards only for Povetkin to come charging back in the middle rounds before dropping Takam hard in the ninth and knocking him out cold in the tenth. After rebuilding with three wins against journeymen, Takam was brought in to face an up-and-coming Joseph Parker in New Zealand. He figured to be the best opponent of the Parker’s career and he gave the Kiwi hometown hero all he could handle en route to a close points loss.
Takam is a legitimate contender, but that speaks more to the weakness of the contemporary heavyweight division than it does to his level of talent. He is a solid operator in the ring, doing everything fairly well, but nothing outstandingly. Ironically, he possesses a style that harks back to the Golden Age of heavyweight boxing. He utilises the crab guard, a la Ken Norton and before him Archie Moore, comes forward and smothers his opponent with a high-volume attack, mixing it up well with hooks to the head and body. He is physically strong and boasts respectable power in addition to a good engine for a heavyweight, something which was curiously absent in the late rounds against Parker in which he seemed to take his foot off the gas and give away a fight which was very much up for grabs. He is also a durable and determined foe blessed with a reliable chin; a necessity considering his fighting style. The devastating stoppage loss to Povetkin is somewhat of an aberration; in hindsight there are serious questions which must be raised over the circumstances of this loss due to Povetkin’s history of PED use. In his fight against Parker, Takam took some good shots from a big puncher and took them well. In Joshua, he will face a similarly younger, fresher and bigger man, but one who hits even harder and is a superior boxer to boot.
It has been stated by Eddie Hearn that, having prepared for Pulev’s height and style, Joshua now faces a difficult challenge in adjusting to the short, squat Takam and the contrasting style he will bring to the ring. Indeed, the contrast between Pulev’s patient, stand-up boxer style and Takam’s come-forward, smothering style could not be greater. However, while the former had the potential to give Joshua fits, Takam’s style is tailor-made for him. The Cameroonian will have to deal with a reach disadvantage and an even more significant height disadvantage. The prospect of walking through Joshua’s heavy artillery to get on the inside where he does his best work is a daunting task. Should he get there, he may not find much joy either. Against a much shorter man on the inside, the uppercut is an effective weapon. Joshua throws a quite simply devastating uppercut; just ask Dillian Whyte. It would not be a surprise to see a similar outcome in this fight.
Styles make fights and while we won’t get to see Joshua face what would undoubtedly have been a difficult stylistic test against Pulev, we will get a far more entertaining fight on October 28, albeit less competitive. Takam will be game and will come forward as he always does, but he will be outgunned. Expect Joshua to put on a show and stop the brave Cameroonian by brutal knockout before the middle rounds are over.
Article by: Paul Lam
You can follow Paul on Twitter at: @PaulTheWallLam
Lee Selby has his eyes fixed firmly on unbeaten Mexican southpaw Eduardo Ramirez ahead of their showdown at the Copper Box Arena on December 9th.
The 30-year-old knows that should he come through his latest challenge unscathed, he'll be cashing in on some huge pay days in 2018, with the likes of mandatory challenger Josh Warrington, Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg all banging the drum for a shot as his IBF featherweight title.
Selby told Behind The Gloves : "I'm not looking past December 9th and doing the job against Ramirez.
"There were only a few names available for this fight who were up there in the ratings, and Ramirez was the one we went for.
"I don't like to do too much research into my opponents, I've had a little look on YouTube and he looks decent, with fast hands and he seems tough too.
"He's the sixth or seventh unbeaten fighter I've faced, so I have no worries about his record."
The Welshman was talking from his training camp in Fuerteventura following a sparring session with Ryan Wheeler and Jazza Dickens, and admits it's nice to train with the sun beating down on his back, adding: "We've been out here before, the facilities at Adam Bailey's gym are superb and it's nice to break camp up and come out here to get some sun on my back.
"I'm getting great sparring with two southpaws in Ryan and Jazza and my preparation is going well."
Former Team GB amateur standout Harvey Horn has said he hopes to be fast-tracked as he embarks upon his professional career. Horn will make his debut on the undercard of a show featuring British world champions James DeGale and Lee Selby at London’s Copper Box Arena on December 9.
The 22-year-old signed a long-term promotional deal with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren at the beginning of October and will campaign in the Flyweight division. He trains out of the famous Peacock Gym in Canning Town under highly-respected coach Mark Tibbs.
The East-Londoner gained a wealth of experience in a fine amateur career where he won won the 2014 ABA championships, before continuing his progression in the following year after winning a European silver medal in Bulgaria. He then represented Team GB at the inaugural European Games in Baku.
Horn gained what could be crucial experience through participating in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) which he entered with the British Lionhearts squad. The pro-style boxing format sees participants compete without a vest and are not permitted to wear protective headgear over three-minute rounds.
"They’re five round fights, no vest, no head guard, it’s like a professional fight." said Horn, in an exclusive interview with Behind The Gloves reporter Isaiah Benjamin.
"I was in there with the world’s best, so as far as I’m concerned I’ve already had three or four professional fights already. I’ll jump in at four rounds to start and maybe have two of those and then move up to six rounders, but I don’t want to stick around on the six’s too long."
"Judging on how I’ve been performing the last few years, and with the WSB and amateur experience that I’ve got, I’m hoping to be fast-tracked and that’s something that is expected of me from my promoter and my trainer.” he continued.
Quick! Name two currently active professional boxers with more talent and skill than Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux? I'm not a gambling man but I'll bet the farm you can't do it. So don't even try. Listen, pedigree doesn't lie. Double Olympic gold medal winners don't grow on trees.
For the boxing faithful, 2017 has been a year where our cups have runneth over. We've had the drama of Wladimir Klitschko vs Anthony Joshua and Ward vs Kovalev, the controversy of the long awaited clash between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, and the shock of Roman Gonzalez getting unexpectedly bombed out by the dynamite fisted Thai, Sor Rungvisai. Whichever way you slice it boxing is on a roll this year. And it's not over yet.
On December 9th, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, we get the biggest fight in the sport that can be made in any weight class below 135lbs. And the second the Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux bout was officially announced, you could hear the collective sound of jaws dropping across the entire boxing landscape. In fact mine dropped so hard it hit the floor, bounced back up and knocked me clean out.
A couple of swift kicks below the belt line from the wife - her version of first aid - woke me up and, apart from the searing pain in my groin, my first thought was of Loma-Rigo. The fact this fight is signed, sealed and delivered is almost too good to be true. So go ahead and slap yourself. This dream matchup is actually going to happen and if you're anything like me I'd wager you can't wait for the first bell to ring on fight night.
Moving forward I'll say this... It's a damn good time to be a follower of the "Sweet Science."
On 30 October 2017, Robert Smith of the BBBoC blamed Tyson Fury for delays to his anti-doping hearing. He said to Sky Sports, “ We [the BBBoC] are ready to go, UKAD are ready to go on our behalf, and the independent panel are waiting for a confirmed date. It's up to them [Team Fury] now [to propose a date] ."
Then, on 23 November 2017, Mr Smith reiterated to Sky Sports, " The reason why this has taken so long, so I have been led to believe, is because Mr Fury's legal team could not agree a date for the recommencement of the hearing. They obviously now have, and the hearing will recommence [in December 2017] ."
Mr Smith is incorrect. While Team Fury have been advised not to discuss this matter until it is over, we would like to clarify as follows:
(i) This matter started in February 2015 – almost 3 years ago – after routine doping control tests.
(ii) Tyson and Hughie were not notified of the results of those tests for 7 months, and even then UKAD simply asked them about their diet. There was never any suggestion that Tyson and Hughie had done anything wrong or that they might be in any sort of trouble.
(iii) Then, without warning, UKAD charged Tyson and Hughie in June 2016 in relation to the February 2015 tests – i.e. 16 months after the tests.
(iv) A hearing eventually took place in May 2017 but was halted after UKAD objected to the participation of a tribunal member.
(v) Hearing dates were then proposed for early October 2017 but UKAD’s team ( not Team Fury’s team) was unavailable.
(vi) A hearing has now been fixed for December 2017.
Contrary to the BBBoC’s suggestion, therefore, the delays have not been caused by Team Fury.
Source: Hennessy Sports [Press Release]
Belfast's Carl Frampton (24-1-0, 14 KO's) marked his return to the ring under new trainer Jamie Moore last Saturday night with a closely-contested, unanimous points victory over Horacio Garcia (33-4-1, 24 KO's) after ten months of inactivity.
Frampton certainly impressed in a win that could in no way be described as 'routine'; it was, in fact, anything but. It was a win where he was required to utilise his boxing skills and masterfully navigate the ring early on against a tenacious opponent, in addition to harnessing his own reserves of grit and determination as the fight progressed into the gruelling later stages, with Garcia growing in confidence.
Nevertheless, prior to making his comeback after a seemingly acrimonious split with former manager and mentor Barry McGuigan, it has to be said that Frampton's previous claims of his own capability to knockout any fighter in the division do now appear, in hindsight, to be somewhat hollow.
It's not that the Ulsterman possesses insufficient or otherwise unremarkable power. On the contrary, the spite and varied selection of his punches are clearly one of Frampton's main attributes. Moreover, Frampton is an extremely well-rounded fighter who is, to say the least, adequate in almost every department, and according to popular consensus, he stands with rival Leo Santa Cruz are the two best in a talent-rich Featherweight division.
Most boxing fans will have experienced a sense of deja vu on Monday evening, when it was reported that former two division World Champion David Haye (28-3-0, 26 KO’s) had sustained a bicep injury as a result of a freak training accident, resulting in the postponement of next month’s scheduled rematch with Liverpool’s Tony Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KO’s).
The previous fortnight had seen much speculation surrounding the proposed bout, with a spate of rumours doing the rounds concerning the fitness of the thirty-seven-year-old ahead of the upcoming pay-per-view clash.
Haye has now withdrawn from four of his last seven scheduled contests, and has fought just one live opponent since 2012: suffering an 11th round TKO loss at the hands of the aforementioned Tony Bellew, on that one inauspicious occasion.
In spite of his latest injury setback, the former WBA World Heavyweight Champion has ambitiously proposed a rescheduled date of either March or May, pending venue availability. Whilst such optimism may be met with a degree of scepticism by many, it should come as no great surprise from a fighter who will be undoubtedly desperate to exact revenge upon his arch nemesis, and subsequently erase the image of him being punched through the ropes - and into defeat - in the first encounter in March of this year.
Upon suffering the shock reverse last time out, 'The Hayemaker' made the decision to part ways with trainer Shane McGuigan in favour of Cuban veteran Ismael Salas, who had relocated to London in order undertake the assignment. The fledgling partnership has appeared to be a success thus far, with Salas being handed the additional responsibility of training two of Haye’s most valuable promotional assets, in 2016 Olympian Joe Joyce and crossover MMA star Michael 'Venom' Page.
Boxing's No. 1 superhero and undefeated WBC/WBA/IBF/IBO middleweight world champion Gennady "GGG" Golovkin is back home in the Los Angeles area after his well-received visit to the Mexico, the motherland of his boxing style. Joined by his trainer Abel Sanchez and promoter Tom Loeffler, Golovkin traveled to Mexico City this week to meet with his fans and thank them for the support they have given him throughout his career and especially in the lead up and aftermath of his September 16 title defense against Canelo Alvarez. Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KO's), boxing's longest-reigning active world champion, has successfully defended the middleweight title 19 times -- one short of the record -- since 2010.
Golovkin's whirlwind tour of Mexico City included a sustained standing ovation from 100,000 fans at Azteca Stadium at halftime of the game between the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots. Golovkin, wearing his WBC world title belt, was introduced on the field at halftime and greeted by an entire stadium chanting 'Triple G' repeatedly. The following day, the Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera, honored Golovkin with a proclamation declaring him a distinguished guest of the city. The proclamation was in recognition of Golovkin's generous support of the victims of the earthquake. The highlight of Golovkin's trip was an extended visit to the Moctezuma Pediatric Hospital to give hugs, high fives and toys to children who are battling cancer. He also spent time with the relatives of the children, accompanied by the head of the Ministry of Health, Armando Ahued Ortega, and the president of the World Boxing Council (WBC) Mauricio Sulaiman.
"It really touched my heart to visit the children in the hospital, it was nice to bring them a special moment for a day," said Golovkin. "I have so much respect for the doctors and nurses who treat the children and their families every day. I am just thankful to God that I am in a position to be able to visit them and bring a smile to their faces.
It was a big honor to receive the official declaration from Governor Mancera, recognizing me as an official guest and International Ambassador of Mexico City. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we should all give thanks for the blessing we have received. My trip to Mexico certainly did that for me."
"Gennady has won the hearts of Mexican people and is considered one of their own," said Sulaiman. "His kindness and much love given to those little champions fighting for their lives was humbling and brought tears of joy to many of us. I'm so proud to have GGG as the WBC middleweight champion. He truly represents the best of boxing in and outside the ring."
"When we walked onto the field in front of 100,000 fans at Azteca Stadium and they were chanting 'Triple G,' it was one of those moments that you will remember forever, said Loeffler. "The secret to his success is GGG does more promoting of his career on a world-wide basis when he is not fighting than most fighters do when they have a fight coming up. Last week he was in China with Jack Ma and this week he was in Mexico at the invitation of the president of the WBC."
Source: Sternberg Communications [Press Release]
On Saturday night in Madison Square Garden, New York, former IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev returns to the ring to face Vyacheslav Shabranskyy for one of his old belts, the WBO strap left vacant by Andre Ward in the wake of his retirement from boxing. Ward of course claimed the aforementioned trio of belts with a narrow and controversial points decision over Kovalev in November 2016, one which many felt should have gone in favour of the Russian, who knocked Ward down in the second round. The closeness of the fight begged for a rematch and Ward put a definitive stamp on their rivalry by stopping Kovalev in the eighth round. There were complaints from Kovalev’s side of repeated low blows from Ward leading up to the stoppage, but the reality is that Kovalev had already been badly hurt by legitimate punches to the head and body and had nothing left in his tank.
The past year has been as torrid and unforgiving as the Russian winter for Kovalev. He lost his unbeaten record, all his belts and was stopped for the first time in his career. He split acrimoniously with his long-time trainer, John David Jackson, amidst an exchange of insults and accusations over who was to blame for the reversals suffered in the ring. Moreover, he lost the aura of menace and invincibility that he carried with him to every bout. Lest we forget that, before the fights with Ward, the ‘Krusher’ was regarded as one of the most feared men in boxing; a formidable boxer-puncher with devastating power and a notorious mean streak which carried him to a record 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts, three world titles, a career-defining win against the legendary Bernard Hopkins and a place in most pound-for-pound rankings. He now has the opportunity for redemption, albeit against a lesser foe.