Explosive Joshua values entertainment as much as wins
By STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer
Anthony Joshua’s goal in boxing extends beyond the ambitious task of unifying the world heavyweight titles.
He wants to put on a show while doing so.
Joshua is leading the resurgence of a heavyweight division that suffered for at least a decade amid the dominance and cautious style of the Klitschko brothers.
The IBF and WBA champion is as popular for his explosive fighting style as his looks and easy-going character, and is seeking a 20th straight professional win when he fights Carlos Takam in Cardiff on Saturday.
His 19 victories have all come by knockout and only one of those fights — against Wladimir Klitschko in April — went beyond seven rounds.
“Right now, we are in the division and the business of providing really good fights,” Joshua said Thursday in the fighters’ final head-to-head news conference. “We are not here to tip and tap and run for 12 rounds.”
“I think the fans are always going to be the winners in this division,” the British fighter added, “because you have hungry guys that are coming.”
The late change of opponent for Joshua — Takam was announced just two weeks ago as the replacement for the injured Kubrat Pulev — should make the fight more entertaining in front of an estimated crowd of 78,000 people at Principality Stadium.
Joshua is coming in lighter for his first defense of the WBA belt and the fourth defense of the IBF strap because he wanted to counter the speed of Pulev, who he described as a “real amateur-style boxer.”
Takam, though, is a different kind of fighter, someone who will get in close, work the body and slug it out. The Cameroon-born French boxer took Joseph Parker, the current WBO champion, to 12 rounds last year in the last of his three career losses.
“With his style and his strength, I wish I’d have come in heavier,” Joshua said, “so we can stand there and slug it out. His punches are going to be ricocheting through my whole body. So the bigger you are, the stronger you are.”
Joshua called the fight a “potential banana skin” after training for more than two months in the expectation of taking on Pulev.
“Who knows what’s going to happen. You saw I got tired against Klitschko — am I going to find out I’m only a five-round fighter?” Joshua said. “This is someone who is tough, can go the distance. He’s definitely going to take me into late waters.”
Takam, a mandatory challenger, said it would be the biggest night of his 39-fight professional career that “will change my sporting life, but not my personal life.”
“Sometimes late notice means less pressure,” said Christian Cherchi, Takam’s promoter.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80