Anthony Joshua's management have been forced to find two substitutes for his next world title defence. Ralph Ellis looks at the little-known Frenchman who will step into the ring with the champion...

The first thing about Anthony Joshua's fight is that he was already meeting the stand-in. Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev, who dropped out through injury, was only there because Wladimir Klitschko decided to retire.

So now when Carlos Takam gets in the ring in the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday night, he'll be the stand-in's stand-in. No wonder Joshua and his manager Eddie Hearn are working so hard to convince us it will be a tough fight. Joshua says it could take him until the tenth round to win.

Normally all that talk is done to sell tickets. This time it's happening because 80,000 tickets - plus a load more pay per view passes - had already been sold and they are trying to convince everybody not to demand a refund.

After all the drama of his epic, getting off the floor triumph over Klitschko earlier in the year they don't really want a mismatch. Yet Joshua is 1.06 in the Match Odds and 1.13 to win inside the distance. The fear is he'll be not so much Carlos the Jackal as Carlos the Jackass!

Yet Takam is a decent fighter. At 36 this will be his 40th fight with only three defeats on his record, the most recent of them in May last year which actually enhanced his reputation when he went the distance with current WBO champion Joseph Parker.

Since then he has worked his way back up the IBF pecking order with knock-out wins over Marcia Rekowski then Ivica Bacurin but even so couldn't have been prepared for the chance of a world title shot that suddenly came his way when Pulev suffered a shoulder injury.

His promoter Joseph Germain has told French journalists that his man is fit enough to fight. "He always stays in condition even between contests," he said.

But we're talking about a guy who did a three-month training camp before he met Parker, rather than having barely a fortnight to get ready for this fight.

Takam's story is a good one. Born into a modest family in the sea port of Douala, the largest city in Cameroon, he took up boxing by chance. There was a club on his route from school to home and he began calling in to do some training.

"I only went to get fit, I didn't intend to fight," he once said. "It wasn't until I won a trophy that I even told my dad I was going there."

After taking up the sport seriously in 2002 he progressed to winning the African championships then representing Cameroon in the 2004 Olympics, before deciding to turn pro and moving first to Belgium then Paris.

Apart from a couple of trips to Bruges it was nine years before he fought outside of France, facing Mike Perez in Montreal. It proved a landmark for Takam as after losing the first five rounds he fought back to earn a draw.

Since then he's established a reputation for durability, although again the lack of proper preparation must harm his stamina if the fight with Joshua goes any sort of distance.

It makes the Round Betting probably the most interesting market for Saturday night. Joshua in round one at 8.00 will be a popular bet, although I think the granite jawed Takram might take him a bit further - maybe to round six which is a 10.50 shot.


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