Joshua defends his world heavyweight belts against Carlos Takam today

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After the switch of opponent, change in tactics, big weight gain and several sessions walking through hordes of fans kissing babies, it is time for Anthony Joshua to strip and fight.

Joshua defends his world heavyweight belts against Carlos Takam, who is either the luckiest or the unluckiest man in boxing, in Cardiff on Saturday night in front of 78,000 in a fight increasingly being condemned as a mismatch.

Takam took the fight at short notice, is a long way short of peak, but an equal distance from being the sacrificial lamb of some perverted narratives.

Takam received a hefty down payment on his eventual selection, which was money to spend in preparation for the call he received less than two weeks ago telling him he was getting the fight with Joshua.

Takam is a big boy, a grown man, a tough man and also, it seems, an honest man, but he did not train like a hungry man for 12 weeks. If he had prepared like a desperate dog for a fat bone, the fight would have gone the full twelve rounds.

Takam cut corners and that is understandable when the date and opponent is not confirmed. Takam is only human and that will not be enough against Joshua, sorry.

The best heavyweight champions in history have fought men inferior to Takam, men with less ambition, fewer credentials but they toiled in different days.

Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Larry Holmes were in some outrageous fights and everybody in the business moved on with a conspiratorial wink and the hope that the next fight would be harder.

Please, don’t get me started on the terminological trickery of the Don King days when an endless list of apathetic fighters fought with all the passion of a yoga mat.

If Takam had been scheduled to fight Joshua since the day Pulev was announced, at the start of September, this would be a tough job. It will still be good to watch until it is all over before the end of the sixth, which is not as long as Takam wanted and not as long as Joshua expected.

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