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Joshua on ‘challenger mode’ ahead of title defence

World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua

CARDIFF, United Kingdom, Oct 26- Anthony Joshua says he has the mindset of a challenger ahead of his world heavyweight title defence against Carlos Takam on Saturday.

The bout will be Joshua’s fourth defence of his International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight title but a first defence of the World Boxing Association (WBA), which the 2012 Olympic gold medallist won with a technical knock-out of Wladimir Klitschko in April.

But Joshua, who has won all 19 of his professional bouts insisted he remained humble ahead of a bout with France-based Takam, who only stepped in at 12 days notice after original opponent Kubrat Pulev, of Bulgaria, pulled out with a shoulder injury.

“I used to go to all the amateur boxing shows when I was an amateur and you wanted the interaction with your role models,” Joshua told a Cardiff news conference on Thursday.

“Now I see people coming up to me and I give them a bit,” he added ahead of a bout that could earn him up to £15 million, said Joshua who lives with his mother in London when not training in Sheffield.

Joshua’s unprecedented drawing power for a British boxer fighting in the UK means a crowd of over 70,000 is expected at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff — best known for staging Wales rugby union internationals.

– ‘Transcended boxing’ –

For Joshua’s thrilling 11th round win over Klitschko in April, there was a 90,000 sell-out at London’s Wembley Stadium. “We have never seen anything like this in boxing and may never see it again,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “This young man has transcended boxing.”

But Joshua said memories of April’s thriller would count for nothing in Cardiff this weekend.

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“We’re going to have to put the Klitschko win to the side at some stage,” he said.

“That was then and this is now. Carlos is a completely different animal to Klitschko.

“But what I do know is that I’m willing to do this or that or whatever to win. In terms of style and technique it’s completely different. My mindset is different for this fight,” Joshua added.

The now 36-year-old Paris-based Takam (35 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw, 27 knockouts) represented Cameroon at the 2004 Olympics before moving to France the following year.

Joshua was unconcerned by the late change of opponent saying: “My trainer Rob McCracken has always taught me to focus on myself, my own personal development, rather than the opponent.

“He’s never trained me me for just one style of opponent. Whether I was fighting Kubrat Pulev or Carlos Takam, he’s adapted me and it’s been about my own balance, footwork and technique.”

– Takam eyeing title –

Takam, who lost on points to New Zealand’s Joseph Parker last year before the New Zealander went on to win the World Boxing Organisation version of the heavyweight title, said he was ready to face Joshua despite the lack of notice.

“When I heard the news about the fight I was already preparing for another fight, so I am ready,” said Takam.

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And Takam’s promoter Christian Cherchi insisted his fighter was not just turning up for a big pay-day.

“Of course, there could be an upset, because you are talking about heavyweight boxing and one punch can change everything,” said Cherchi. “Joshua knows this because he came back in a great way (after getting knocked down) in a great fight against Klitschko.

“Sometimes late notice means less pressure. Anthony is the favourite to win so the pressure is on him. But we believe Carlos has a great chance to win this fight.

“We haven’t just come for the opportunity, we’ve come to win,” he added.

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