It’s another fight week, another sold-out stadium, but with the added twist of a new opponent.
Kubrat Pulev’s injured bicep means Carlos Takam steps up as my mandatory challenger in Cardiff on Saturday night.
I found out the news last Monday when I came into the gym and my trainer, Rob McCracken, said: “Before you hear it from somewhere else and so you’re kept in the loop, be prepared for a change of opponent because Pulev might be injured.”
After training, Eddie Hearn messaged me saying, “Pulev is out and Takam is in, call me if you need anything” and that was it.
We haven’t had Pulev-clones coming in for sparring, my coach trains me to be better, not to have a certain style or beat a certain opponent.
Okay, I’ve been watching Pulev for months but now it’s Takam. I just switch my search in YouTube from Pulev to Takam, that’s all that’s changed, I’ve got to do the same job.
I’ve got to change my approach a bit but I still need to box to the best of my ability and I hope I can still show my boxing technique as well. I like to show what I’m capable of against boxers and he’s got a very different style.
This is actually a tougher fight. You can keep punching Takam and he’s still going to be in your face. Some guys you hit once, twice and then they are taking steps back and not engaging. Hit Takam, he comes forward looking for more and to get inside.
Eddie’s a smart businessman, he knows the sport. He told Carlos’s team that he was next in line in the IBF so to stay in shape as this is a mandatory fight and you could be next — and Carlos is a professional and that’s what he has done.
He’s been called in and he’s got a massive opportunity.
I worked hard for these titles so I don’t want to have to just give them up, I want to defend them because I’m a proud champion.
It makes perfect sense to fight Takam and the only real negative for me is that we haven’t had 10 weeks build-up on him in the media. He’s a proper opponent and one that has been in camp knowing this fight could happen, so he’s prepared for this.
If Pulev had not been in the picture and we’d announced that I was fighting Takam as my mandatory and No3 in the rankings, that’s definitely a credible defence.
Takam has been fighting big guys for years. My last fights and camps have all been for tall men — Wladimir Klitschko is 6ft 6in, Eric Molina is 6ft 4in, Dominic Breazeale is 6ft 7in, Pulev is 6ft 4½in — now I am fighting a guy who is shorter at 6ft 1½in and will be well under six foot when crouched down and rolling shots.
It’s a completely different ball game and now I am going to have to get ready for a guy who wants to get to work on the inside and do a better job than some of his other opponents.
We were talking about fighting a couple of years ago but I’ve never sparred him, though.
He’s so game and he’s always said he wants to fight me so I know that he believes he can beat me. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain and that makes him a very dangerous proposition.
Pulev came through the Olympic system, he won World Championship bronze and has that eastern European style so he’s a very good boxer — I was looking for that being a bit of a chess match. Now we get a Mike Tyson-type guy in Takam: shorter, thicker set and loves a left hook.
We all face injuries and niggles but you crack on.
That’s my mindset but everyone is different. You want to be 110 per cent, though, for a world title fight so you have to respect that if he’s got the injury. It’s scary and dangerous. Everyone is interested in what’s going to happen in 2018 but, if I can’t get past Takam, it puts a massive dent in those plans.
Sky Sports Box Office will show the world heavyweight title fight between Joshua and Takam exclusively live. To order, visit skysports.com/joshua