Joyce takes big punches and also dishes them out to stop Takam in sixth round

Big Brit solidifies position as mandatory for AJ-Usyk winner

Heavyweight contender Joe Joyce got off to a rough start but had a big finish as he stopped Carlos Takam in the sixth round to move a step closer to a world title shot in the main event of the Queensberry Promotions card on Saturday at the SSE Arena, Wembley in London, where fans were permitted to attend.

Joyce, who predicted a knockout, knew going into the bout with former title challenger Takam that as long as he won the WBO would make him the next mandatory challenger for the winner of the Sept. 25 fight between three-belt titleholder Anthony Joshua and current WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk.

“What I want is AJ or Usyk,” Joyce said. “I don’t need anymore tests. I’ve earned it. I’m ready now.”

Although England’s Joyce (13-0, 12 KOs), 35, won’t immediately get the winner of that fight he secured his position with a strong finish, unleashing about two dozen unanswered punches on a fading Takam. Not all of the shots landed but he got in several that rocked Takam, who backed toward the ropes and was not firing back when referee Steve Gray stepped in and stopped the fight at 49 seconds.

It was a stoppage some viewed as controversial because while Takam (39-6-1, 28 KOs), 40, of France, was very obviously rocked, he did not appear in badly hurt. He was incensed when Gray waved it off, complaining bitterly about it even though he had only himself to blame for not returning the massive onslaught of punches from Joyce.

Takam sure was not happy about it and neither was his promoter, Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing.

“Joe Joyce was punching at me, yes, but I see that he was getting really tired, so I tried to keep my hands up, that was my strategy, to come back after he was tired and put him out,” Takam said. “(Gray) stopped the fight and I ask him why? Why? I used my experience. I know what I am doing, but he stopped the fight.”

Said DeGuardia: “(Takam) was alert. You could see in his eyes he was aware of what was going on, and was defending himself. While certainly a factor, it’s not just about whether a fighter is throwing punches back. When you have an experienced veteran fighter like Carlos, who is clearly winning an important heavyweight fight, it’s important to get it right. The referee must also know who is in that ring, his acumen, experience, basically his ring generalship. 

“These are things that must be taken into consideration in order to make the right call. Unfortunately for Carlo’s, we believe the wrong decision was made and that he was alert and defending himself while waiting to launch his counter-attack at the right precise moment. We think a rematch is warranted.”

Joyce ended Takam’s four-fight winning streak and knocked him out quicker than Joshua and Dereck Chisora did. Joshua needed 10 rounds to get rid of Takam in their October 2017 world title fight and Chisora stopped him in the eighth round in July 2018.

The 6-foot-6, 264-pound Joyce is robotic and slow but he has such size and power — and such a good chin — that he walked through many clean right hands from the 6-2, 248-pound Takam in the first few rounds, pressed forward and began to break him down.

“It was a good fight and he hit me with some good shots,” said Joyce, who was coming off his biggest victory, a 10th-round knockout of then-undefeated countryman Daniel Dubois to win the vacant European title in November. “(I was) mildly (hurt by him). I’m pretty tough as they come. I weathered the storm and fired right back.”

Joyce, the 2016 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist, was the big favorite but early on Takam gave him plenty of problems because Joyce was so easy to hit. He bounced overhand rights off the side of Joyce’s head in the opening round and several more over the next few rounds.

But by end of the fourth round Takam began to slow a bit after having expended so much energy and taking a big body shot from Joyce.

In the sixth round, Joyce made him hunch over under an extended flurry of punches. Takam was not punching back and trying to cover up as Joyce strafed him with shots from both hands. When he landed a long right hand, it sent Takam reeling toward the ropes with his hands down, forcing Gray to step in.

“It was a good fight. He’s a warrior,” Joyce said of Takam. “He’s been in so many great fights.”

It was a highly entertaining fight.

“It was a very, very exciting heavyweight fight,” Queensberry’s Frank Warren said. “There’s no doubt about that. They both gave everybody value for money and it was a sensational finish.”

Warren said he believed it was a proper stoppage.

“If you’re taking shots and you’re not throwing back the referee had no alternative and he was not throwing shots back,” Warren said.

Warren said Joyce could be back in action in October. Joyce won’t just sit and wait for the title shot, which is likely a year away or longer.

“Obviously, AJ and Usyk will get it on in September and then he becomes the mandatory challenger to the winner,” Warren said. “When (the WBO) let that happen they will decide. I think providing AJ wins (against Usyk) and providing Tyson Fury wins (in his third fight with Deontay Wilder on Oct. 9) that they’ll fight first and the winner will have fight (Joyce), or if the title gets vacated Joe would fight for the vacant title.”

Edwards defense set

During the card, Warren announced that Sunny Edwards would make the first defense of his IBF flyweight world title against mandatory challenger Jayson Mama on Sept. 11 at the Copper Box Arena in Edwards’ hometown of London.

Edwards (16-0, 4 KOs), 25, won the 112-pound belt on April 30 at York Hall in London when he handily outpointed Moruti Mthalane in a shocker.

Mama (16-0, 9 KOs), 24, of the Philippines, will be fighting outside of Asia for the first time as he steps up the level of his competition.

“This is a bit of a step into the unknown against an unbeaten fighter who will be as confident of victory as Sunny was against Mthalane,” Warren said. “Jayson Mama was good enough to step aside to allow Sunny his shot at the South African great (Mthalane) and now it is his turn to attempt to upset the odds.

“To my mind though, Sunny is the best flyweight on the planet and this is just the beginning of a glorious reign as champion. He wants to unify and win The Ring magazine belt and we will look to do that, but he has this mandatory obligation to navigate through first and he cannot take anything for granted.”

Photo: Queensberry Promotions

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