October 27, 2017
October 27, 2017
Anthony Joshua vs Carlos Takam

Esther Lin/Showtime

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ANTHONY JOSHUA makes the fourth defence of his world heavyweight titles against Carlos Takam at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday night.

Here Press Association Sport looks at the main talking points ahead of the bout.

Is Joshua entering his prime?

The 28-year-old had never been knocked down as a professional nor entered the “championship rounds”, as they are known, until he stopped Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round of their April fight. That encounter will not only have given him so much of the experience he was previously lacking, but taught him the ruthlessness involved in boxing elite opponents and given him the self-belief needed to truly excel. Given his age, Joshua would appear to be approaching his peak years, so it will be interesting to see to what extent his performance on Saturday demonstrates that?

How ambitious an opponent is Takam?

It is to be hoped Takam will fight without pressure or expectation. He only became Joshua’s opponent when Kubrat Pulev withdrew through injury with less than a fortnight’s notice. He will likely never again be presented with such a lucrative opportunity, so could therefore be determined to take this one. Joshua, however, is a fearsome, undefeated puncher, who few wish to engage with once his power has been felt. Will Takam rise to the challenge or back away?

How will the change of opponent affect Joshua?

The champion spent 10 weeks preparing for Pulev, and has since had less than a fortnight to adjust for Takam, a shorter fighter with a different style. If Joshua is the fighter he is widely believed to be, he will prove good enough to win regardless, but if not, the necessary adjustments could prove more difficult to make.

How will Joshua’s increased weight affect his performance?

The heavier a fighter is, the more he could risk undermining his speed, regardless of any potential improvement in his punch resistance. There is little doubt that one of Joshua’s strengths is his fast hands, so in tipping the scales at a career-heaviest 18st 2lbs, will that speed be compromised?

How focused is the champion?

Neither Takam nor Pulev posed a threat like Klitschko, and there are already ambitious plans for the three fights Joshua is expected to have in 2018. Even for a fighter as obviously hungry as Joshua, when it remains a necessity to plan for a next move after the coming fight, it is possible for focus to be affected.