Kubrat Pulev suffering an injury just twelve days before his face-off with Anthony Joshua caused a big stir in the build-up to the Cardiff showdown.
Within hours of the Bulgarian’s injury, promoter Eddie Hearn put his back up plan in action. He confirmed Carlos Takam, who was already in training for the fight as a reserve. Now the official replacement for October 28.
A portion of punters who purchased tickets were quite unhappy with the forced change. Some even demanding a refund of their Principality Stadium ticket. In truth though, there was no other place for Hearn or Joshua to go.
Many UK fans wanted Dillian Whyte, who was training to participate on the same bill, to be in the opposite corner. But IBF rules meant this was a massive long shot to happen.
A quick glance at the rankings would tell you the only chance Whyte only 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 the sixth position in the IBF rankings. This means the Londoner was out of reach for Joshua if the 2012 Olympic champion wanted to keep his red belt.
Takam’s acceptance of the clash was key and cemented the fact Joshua had to fight Cameroonian or he would have been stripped of his title.
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 – meant Hearn could fend off some of the negativity by stating that fact.
All in all, and at just twelve days’ notice, Takam seems 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.
A win over Takam this weekend puts Joshua in position for a voluntary defense where ‘AJ’ and Hearn can choose who they want to oppose in the spring of 2018.
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