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Joshua vs Takam: Talking points from world heavyweight bout

 

There are plenty of fighters who dish out punishment, earn their dangerous reputations, and then crumble when adversity smacks them in the face. Joshua may have his flaws, as his rivals will point out, but his propensity to bite down on his gum-shield isn’t one of them.
A nasty clash of heads in the second round, the type of intangible that nobody can prepare for until it cracks your nose when you least expect it, threatened to skid Joshua’s night somewhat off course. His natural reaction was to snarl and ramp up his desire for a quick knockout but it never came. Instead, we saw him box thoughtfully.
Those who have watched or researched Carlos Takam, Joshua being among them, will have predicted his ability to drag Saturday’s fight into the latter half. He took Joseph Parker the distance last year, and had only been stopped once in 39 outings previously. He was never a pushover.
But any lingering fear that Takam’s short-notice call-up would limit his ability to dig deep was expunged in the fifth round when, with blood oozing from his above his eye, he rejected the perfect opportunity to end his night with dignity and let the ringside doctor carry the can for stopping the fight. Takam returned to battle, still bouncing on his toes, still defending himself behind his boulder-like shoulders. At this point, Joshua was forced to inhale sharply and try again.
He had already come through more stringent examinations, of course, having clambered off the canvas against Wladimir Klitschko earlier this year, but sometimes it can be the complacency of this sport that catches up with champions. Had Joshua prepared as intensely for a mandatory defence of his belts as he had for his first career-defining night against Klitschko? Tough but unheralded opponents like Takam have accounted for big-name title-holders who failed to adequately ready themselves in the past – Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and, indeed, Klitschko among them.
So it was interesting to see how Joshua navigated his bigger-than-ever frame into the final rounds, presumably with a devil on his shoulder reminding him of the fatigue that he felt against Klitschko, especially because his blood-filled nose would have prohibited his breathing. This time, Joshua was more comfortable on the defensive because Takam, gamely throwing occasional overhands, couldn’t pressurise him like Klitschko did. Joshua was able to pace himself while still winning rounds against Takam, a practice which will be invaluable experience going forwards.
This version of Joshua weighed in at a career-heavy 18st 2lbs, bigger than Tyson Fury or Klitschko when they met two years. Bigger than Parker or Deontay Wilder, his peers as world champions, have ever weighed. The sole time Lennox Lewis was heavier than Joshua’s most recent weight was before his final fight, against Vitali Klitschko. Joshua is built to be the bully so it is a feather in his cap that he won despite a brave challenger’s refusal to be bowled over.

Round by round analysis

ound 1: Joshua jabbing and poking early on, maintaining his distance, feeling it out. Takam shuffling around, looking for an in or something. Moving around a lot. Pretty much nothing in the opening round, but it goes to Joshua for landing a few jabs. Joshua 10-9
Round 2: Clash of heads early in the round, ref checks but doesn’t seem to be any significant blood. Joshua fires the uppercut, his money punch. Takam trying to get inside now, but he gets smacked with a right hand and a left hook that wobbles Takam just a little. Takam back to staying away in the second half of the round. Joshua 10-9, 20-18
Round 3: Joshua with another right cross to start the round. Takam trying to throw inside, misses twice. Joshua still controlling the round again, but Takam is effectively staying away, if you want to call that something “effective,” which I don’t. Joshua trying to shoot the uppercut inside. Technically, I guess, a “closer round,” but still to Joshua. Joshua 10-9, 30-27
Round 4: Joshua throwing in combination, trying to get something going. He’s not cutting off the ring so well in this fight. Takam isn’t really doing anything with that flaw, but it’s something he’s put on tape for future opponents if nothing else. Takam with a right hand, Joshua back with an uppercut and another shot. Takam cut over the right eye now, dripping down into his eye pretty heavily. Referee takes a look as Takam paws at it. Joshua literally smelling blood, it seems, as he starts to open up with both fists. HARD left hook and Takam’s glove touches the canvas! It’s a knockdown! He takes a count, but will fight on. Joshua charging in to follow up, but the round ends, saving Takam. Joshua 10-8, 40-35
Round 5: Takam coming out trying to lead the offense, but it backfires quickly. Joshua’s aggressive stance and style just overwhelms Takam every time Takam tries to take the initiative. Action gets stopped momentarily to take a look at the cut in the corner, but we resume. Joshua jabbing. Takam throws three punches, none get home. Joshua goes body-head in close, Takam holding his ground. Takam slips a couple shots in the phone booth. Joshua 10-9, 50-44
Round 6: Takam with some nice work in this round, especially to the body. Joshua still jabbing away. I like Takam’s effort in this round but he’s still getting picked off and picked apart, and I can’t swing it to his side. Joshua 10-9, 60-53
Round 7: Joshua has only gone this far twice, against Whyte and against Klitschko. He had more trouble in both of those fights, I’d say — not that Whyte really super tested him, but I think he’d done more than Takam had by this point. Takam’s gotten here being “tricky.” Takam landing some shots again this round, though, and you have to like what he’s still trying to do these last couple of rounds in particular. He hasn’t waved the white towel. Joshua still in control, though. Like last round, I respect what Takam is still doing, but Joshua is winning the rounds anyway. I will say Joshua looks like he’s tiring just a bit. Joshua 10-9, 70-62
Round 8: This isn’t quite the electric atmosphere of past Joshua fights, not even counting the Klitschko bout, which was special in every way. But there are over 75,000 in the building, so. Something of a dull round. Frankly has become something of a dull fight. Joshua 10-9, 80-71
Round 9: Bernstein questioning whether or not Joshua’s career-high weight has had a bad effect on him today. Maybe. Worth wondering, at any rate. I’m gonna give Takam this round. I could have given him the sixth or seventh, maybe. In theory I could have given him three by this point. Takam 10-9, Joshua 89-81
Round 10: Joshua finds a couple shots in the first half of the round, Takam holding on and trying to stand his ground. Halfway in, Joshua lands another shot and the referee steps in to stop the fight. Awful stoppage, frankly. Joshua TKO-10.

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