Heavyweight king Anthony Joshua was forced to dig deep for the second fight running on Saturday night removing a little more of his cloak of invincibility.
The 28 year-old took out massive underdog Carlos Takam in the tenth round at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium but once again stamina issues were apparent with the Londoner.
Coming in at a career-high 254 pounds in hindsight may have been excessive for Joshua, who at times looked tired and needed spells during rounds to recover.
With a unification against Deontay Wilder touted for the summer, Joshua will certainly be required to trim down somewhat in order to combat the speed of the much leaner American.
Wilder usually comes in between 222 to 229 pounds, at least 25 pounds lighter than Joshua, and will massive power in either hand, the mobility of the ‘Bronze Bomber’ would be a big issue.
The extra weight slows Joshua down, there’s no doubting that, whilst Wilder is active for most of every round and will be a problem unless this poundage is addressed.
Joshua looked a lot sharper when facing the likes of Dillian Whyte, Charles Martin and Eric Molina ten pounds lighter than for Takam, and evidence would suggest this is where ‘AJ’ should be aiming to be for his next fight.
Promoter Eddie Hearn targeted Tyson Fury after the Takam contest, which isn’t surprising really as the ex-champion has a weighty predicament of his own, but getting that fight off the ground will prove highly difficult in the current climate.
Fury would have a few stones to shift in order to be ready for April, and by his own admission needs a warm-up fight or two first.
Right now, it seems Joshua could look to Joseph Parker for a spring outing (who is said to have an agreement to fight the winner of Tony Bellew v David Haye II), or he may decide to scrap that bout in favor of waiting for a summer clash with Wilder.
It could be a good idea to take the March fight though, possibly against another mandatory contender with the WBA, to bring the weight down and get another big knockout win under his belt.
That way, Joshua would be in a better position to unify with Wilder, provided the green and gold belt holder comes through Bermane Stiverne as expected this weekend.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay