Upon witnessing what turned out to be very hard work for Anthony Joshua against also-ran Carlos Takam, one has to wonder if the heavyweight division is in the safest hands at the moment.
A far too bulky Joshua once again displayed signs of obvious fatigue issues as the IBF, IBO and WBA king halted his mandatory challenger in the tenth round of a hard slog.
Being the biggest top division name in the business (by far in the marketability factor) only gets you so far, whilst the likes of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder must have been licking their lips throughout proceedings on Saturday night.
Promoter Eddie Hearn’s eggs are firmly all in one basket with the ‘AJ’ train, and on Cardiff viewing, it’s just a matter of time before that 20-0 100% KO express derails. As Hearn’s big name fighters (DeGale and Selby to name two recent ones) continue to jump off the Sky Sports juggernaut, the fixation on Joshua may well bring about a change once a live opponent is in the mix.
Sky Sports Box Office and US powerhouses at Showtime have brought a minimum purse in the tens of millions to the table for Joshua, although it’s hard to see how the 2012 Olympic champion can sustain his run without facing the best around.
WBC champion Wilder would have a massive chance to score a second half knockout should he successfully manoeuvre those dangerous early rounds when Joshua is most effective, whilst I’d go so far out on a limb to say Fury would be way too cute for the Londoner.
If Fury can whip himself into anywhere close to the shape he was for the Wladimir Klitschko fight (and that’s a big IF), the curtain would then come down on Joshua’s current stranglehold on the top division.
Evidence without suggestion shows Joshua cannot sustain his attacks for a full three minutes, whilst taking the rough and tumble in the clinches (like when Takam got through with a headbutt and broke his nose) had a profound effect on the 28 year-old’s performance throughout in Cardiff.
Joshua is pushing forward to clear destruction the way things are currently working out, a bit like Mike Tyson towards the end of his awesome reign of the 1980’s but more inevitable than a shock.
Gassing out at intermittent intervals seems a regular feature to any Joshua fight these days, something which Fury or Wilder would surely capitalize on once the unification talk ends.
Taking a glance at Joshua’s record so far reveals not a 200 pound plus name of note if you take away the aged Wladimir Klitschko, whilst the likes of Joseph Parker or anyone else of that ilk (for the spring of 2018) won’t put a dent in that perfect record.
Fury or Wilder are the only test Joshua needs in order to prove his worth, although it’s highly doubtful the mass of fans present at another stadium sell-out will see those fights happen in the short-term.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay