Joshua vs Takam: History suggests Antony Joshua must not overlook Carlos Takam

By Neel Khagram
27th October 2017

Anthony Joshua only has to glance back into boxing’s vast archives to appreciate the danger Carlos Takam could prove to be this Saturday night.

‘AJ’ is a heavy favourite to defend his IBF and WBA ‘super’ belts against his newly instated mandatory challenger at the Principality Stadium, live on Sky Sports Box Office, but sporting history has an uncomfortable habit of throwing-up giant-killings to shock the most astute students of a given discipline.

For Takam, the call to replace Kubrat Pulev 12-days before the scheduled heavyweight showdown could prove life-changing if he were to pull-off the victory. The France-based Cameroonian has spoken confidently since the announcement, and ominously told Sky Sports News last week that he is “definitely ready for the fight,” and how the thought of performing in front of a hostile crowd of 80,000 “means nothing” to him.

Perhaps the 36-year-old’s belief not only stems from the fact that he was in training camp for the bout - having been put on standby in the event of an injury to Pulev – but because the heavyweight division is littered with upsets since its inception.

In 1892, John Sullivan was heralded as the superstar of the sport having been crowned the first heavyweight champion under the Queensbury rules of boxing. He went into a fight against James Corbett as a heavy favourite, but despite the huge height and reach advantage which the champion held, Corbett’s lateral movement and superior footwork was enough to cause a surprise KO victory in the 21st round.

Similarly, in 1926, Gene Tunney shocked the boxing fraternity to out-box Jack Dempsey and rip the heavyweight crown in front of 120,000 at the Sesquicentennial Stadium, Philadelphia.

Arguably the biggest danger for Joshua, though, is making the same mistake as other talented champions and overlooking the fighter in-front of him. In 1978, Muhammad Ali took his eye off a seven-fight professional challenger in Leon Spinks and came unstuck, whilst Lennox Lewis, chasing a showdown against Mike Tyson, paid little attention to the unknown Hasim Rahman and was brutally stopped inside five-rounds in 2001.

Buster Douglas’ knockout victory over Mike Tyson 17-years ago – a bout which many claim to be the greatest upset in heavyweight history – might be the most poignant warning sign for ’AJ’, given the distraction of potential unification fights against Joseph Parker and Deontay Wilder next year.

Tyson, the self-proclaimed ‘baddest man on the planet’, was set to face Evander Holyfield after Douglas in 1990 for a reported $22 million - the largest purse for any fighter at the time, and clearly ignored the threat of the rank outsider. What transpired would go down in sporting folklore as the Ohio fighter, motivated by the death of his mother, claimed a dramatic stoppage victory to the amazement of all around.

Whether Takam can replicate some of the spectacular performances of the past and reign supreme in the Welsh capital remains to be seen. History suggests upsets do happen - a fact which Joshua must respect, to ensure his name is not added to the unwanted list of heavyweight shocks.

Jacobs vs Arias: Luis Arias will exploit Danny Jacobs, says trainer

By Neel Khagram
10th November 2017

Luis Arias’ trainer does not believes Danny Jacobs is as good as he is “made out to be.”

John David Jackson, who famously guided Sergey Kovalev to unified light-heavyweight glory, feels his unbeaten charge will have too much for the ‘Miracle Man’, and that this weekend’s bout in New York simply presents itself as a stepping stone to eventual world title glory.

“Jacobs is a good, decent fighter, but he’s not what they think he is and made out to be.” Jackson said to FightHub.

“We need to be smart and break him down systematically, and do what Luis does best. Jacobs needs to do what he does best, which isn’t a whole lot.

“You’re going to see a solid fight between a future world champion, and one guy that is trying to stay on top.”

Jacobs, who holds notable victories over Peter Quillin and Sergio Mora (twice), will return to the ring for the first time since losing a close points decision to Gennady Golovkin in March.

The 30-year-old Brooklyn resident has targeted a rematch against ‘GGG’ or a fight against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez next, but Jackson says his team have spotted enough weaknesses in Jacob’s style to scupper such plans and come out victorious on the night.

“The preparation for the Danny Jacobs fight is going really well,” said Jackson.

 “[Luis is] on track doing things he needs to do to be victorious in the fight. The main thing we’re working on is the body attack, because Luis’ body attack is tremendous.

“Luis will be victorious come November 11th.”

Smith vs Vargas: Stephen Smith confident victory over Francisco Vargas will earn another world title shot

By Neel Khagram
14th November 2017

Stephen Smith believes victory over Francisco Vargas on December 9 will earn him another world title fight.

‘Swifty’ (25-3-KO15) fell short in his previous attempts at world honours, losing to Jose Pedraza and Jason Sosa in 2016, but now hopes a notable win on the Orlando Solido vs Miguel Roman Wage undercard at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas will earn him a third shot.

“He’s a former world champion, a great fighter and a great name,” Smith told boxingscene.

“He’s the number two with the WBC and if I beat him and take that ranking then that puts me close to the mandatory position for the world title anyway, whether the fight ends up an eliminator or not.

“If I get a world title fight off the back of it, if I beat him with him being the name that he is, then it’s a good move.”

Vargas (23-1-2-KO17) claimed the WBC super featherweight title against Takashi Miura in 2015, but was stopped inside 11 rounds by Miguel Berchelt in January to suffer the first professional loss of his career.

The 32-year-old Mexican has had less professional fights than Smith and is the same age, but the Liverpool fighter feels the style which the former champion has implemented throughout his career is unsustainable and will be exposed on the night.  

“You only have to look at his face after his last three fights. He’s not the hardest to hit,” Smith said.

“I don’t care who you are, when you’re in top fights like he is and taking punishment like he has taken in his recent fights, that’s got to put miles on your clock. He’s 32 and his body is different when it comes to reacting to things like that than it would be if he was 21.

“I reckon I can use that to my advantage and if I get in there and start landing on him, get my own stuff off and use my own skillset then I can definitely win the fight.

“I don’t think he knows another way of fighting. He’s just a very tough, fit man and he brings it 100 per cent every time.

“The main thing is, I’m going out to Vegas to get that win.”