Just hours later and promoter Eddie Hearn put his back up plan in action to confirm Carlos Takam, who was already in training for the fight as a reserve, as the replacement for October 28.
WBN followed up on the Pulev report stating Dillian Whyte was also a consideration as the former Joshua opponent was training to participate on the same bill.
A quick glance at the rankings would tell you the only chance Whyte had of being picked for the rematch was if number four Christian Hammer or fifth-ranked Jarrell Miller had turned down the opportunity.
Whyte sits in sixth position in the IBF rankings, meaning the Londoner was merely a long shot to be in the opposite corner to Joshua at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
With Miller in training to face Mariusz Wach on Matchroom’s New York debut show in November, there would have been a big possibility of making that bout happen. But at the same time, it would be highly unlikely Christian Hammer would turn his nose up at what could be his one and only world title shot.
Without Takam though, Hearn would have faced a major headache as Joshua v Hammer may have brought about a huge backlash from disgruntled fans who purchased tickets.
Over 70,000 are expected to be in attendance for Joshua’s next outing, and having a name like Takam, who has shared the ring with the likes of Frans Botha, Michael Grant, Alexander Povetkin, Mike Perez, Tony Thompson and prospective ‘AJ’ foe Joseph Parker – with three victories and draw from those six – means Hearn can fend off any negative views quite simply by stating that fact.
Hammer, on the other hand. has a C.V of victories over also-ran contenders and has lost each time he stepped up to the top table. Mariusz Wach and Tyson Fury both stopped the Romanian in the mid-rounds, whilst recent wins over Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf, David Price and Erkan Teper have done little to enhance Hammer’s reputation.
All in all, and at just twelve days’ notice, Takam is a solid outcome for Hearn, who is known to want contender Whyte to face WBC ruler Deontay Wilder and likes to build-up his all-UK Pay-Per-View clashes a lot longer than was afforded this time around.
Should ‘The Villain’ be able to pick up that coveted green and gold strap from Wilder in 2018, Hearn knows Joshua v Whyte II would be a massive unification event for later in the year.
Current IBF Top 10:
1 NOT RATED
2 Kubrat Pulev – Bulgaria
3 Carlos Takam – France
4 Christian Hammer – Romania
5 Jarrell Miller – United States
6 Dillian Whyte – Jamaica
7 Dominic Breazeale – United States
8 Alexander Dimitrenko – Germany
9 Robert Helenius – Finland
10 Mariusz Wach – Poland
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay