Anthony Joshua’s fight with Kubrat Pulev has been cancelled after the Bulgarian suffered an injury in training with Carlos Takam stepping in as a replacement.
Pulev was due to challenge for Joshua’s IBF and WBA heavyweight world titles on October 28 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium but a damaged shoulder has wrecked those plans.
Frenchman Takam, who is ranked No 3 by the IBF, on Monday night finalised a deal to step in at late notice and will enter the fight as a heavy underdog, with the 36-year-old having lost three of his 39 fights.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said: ‘I received a call late afternoon to inform me that Pulev had injured his shoulder and maybe ruled out of the fight – this was later confirmed by his doctor. IBF rules state that the mandatory will go to the next fighter in line which is Carlos Takam.
‘When the Pulev fight was announced I made a deal with Takam’s team to begin camp and be on standby for this fight. When I called them this evening they were overjoyed and good to go.
It’s a difficult position for AJ having prepared meticulously for the style and height of Pulev, he now faces a completely different style and challenge in Takam – this hasn’t happened in his career before but he is ready for all comers on October 28.’
Pulev’s withdrawal is the latest frustration for Joshua, who was due to meet Wladimir Klitschko in a blockbuster rematch of his thrilling win in April before the Ukrainian retired.
But with more than 70,000 tickets already sold for his 20th professional fight, the show will at least go ahead. A crowd the region of 80,000 is expected, meaning the clash will break the world indoor record for a fight, last set in 1978 when Muhammad Ali fought Leon Spinks in front of 63,315 people at the at the New Orleans Superdome.