Anthony Joshua: I need a thrill and boxing fans do too

Briton who defeated Carlos Takam with ease on Saturday night lacks credible opponents

Anthony Joshua celebrates victory over Carlos Takam with his father Robert at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Anthony Joshua celebrates victory over Carlos Takam with his father Robert at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire

 

Anthony Joshua, who may one day rank alongside Lennox Lewis as Britain’s greatest heavyweight, admits he “needs a thrill” to inspire him on a journey that could have a decade and a dozen fights yet to run. His dilemma, however, will be finding opponents credible enough to accompany him.

The reality is the unbeaten 28-year-old WBA, IBF and IBO champion is operating in a market place of limited resources at the highest level. Boxing logic and business sense suggest the next defence of his belts will be against the unbeaten but dull WBO champion, Joseph Parker, in the spring, leading on to a high-summer unification fight that the division and the sport need most, against the American Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBC title.

Beyond that, there is not a lot of excitement – apart from the possibility that semi-retired Tyson Fury will one day rediscover his love for boxing.

“You know what?” Joshua asked rhetorically in the small hours of Sunday morning after getting rid of his latest challenger, the 36-year-old Carlos Takam, “I can’t imagine what it would be like in, say, my 38th fight and doing this over and over again [as Wilder did in Brooklyn on Saturday night, against Bermane Stiverne]. Is he going through the motions? Boxing will live on after me but I need to have a thrill – and the fans need it, too.”

Unsteady feet

The 20th successive win of his short professional career, another stoppage, left the inordinately tough Frenchman and the late replacement for the injured mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev rocking on unsteady feet in the 10th round, blood seeping heavily from wounds around both eyes – and a near-capacity audience of 78,000 wanting more as the referee, Phil Edwards, stepped between them to bring the entertainment to a conclusion.

Takam, who went the distance with Parker and took the excellent Russian Alexander Povetkin to 10 rounds before being stopped, soaked up a steady diet of heavy blows from the second round onwards, and protested unconvincingly at the end that he could continue as the left hooks and right crosses pounded into his unprotected head.

The fans, not all of them hardcore, craved a repeat of the drama Joshua produced at Wembley in April, when he got off the floor to knock out the most dominant champion of the millennium, Wladimir Klitschko, sending the 41-year-old Ukrainian into retirement.

Solid performance

Klitschko, who declined a rematch, was the fading representative of the previous era, having been outpointed by Fury in 2015 dethroned by the irresistible king of the new generation. It was an almost impossible act for Joshua to replicate.

What fans got instead at the Principality Stadium on Saturday night was a solid rather than spectacular performance from their hero. Joshua was thoroughly professional, guarding against complacency as his dangerous, if lightly regarded, opponent swung vigorously but with limited success. Takam, for all his protestations, did not win a round.

“I had to put the Klitschko fight to one side,” Joshua said. “If I didn’t do that, it could become a curse. There are always a few things I could do better but I’m used to dealing with guys of my own height. [Joshua is 6ft 6in, Takam just under 6ft 2in]. It was a bit tricky but I got there in the end.” – (Guardian Service)

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