Anthony Joshua says that Carlos Takam could provide him with a tougher fight than his original opponent.
French fighter Takam has been drafted in at the last minute after mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev was forced to pull out of the Cardiff event with a shoulder injury.
Joshua was already the strong favourite to win the bout at the Principality Stadium on October 28, and is fancied even more now.
But the WBA and IBF heavyweight champion believes Takam is a worthy opponent.
‘Takam is already as tough as they come,’ said the Olympic gold medallist. ‘He’s so tough. He just keeps on walking forward and that’s disheartening for a fighter.
‘Honestly this is a more dangerous fight than Pulev would have been.
‘Takam weighs 22 stones. He’s a better all-round fighter and I’ve been preparing to box someone totally different.
‘Takam is incredibly durable and will be harder to knock out, but when Pulev got hurt the other day there were only two answers to the situation. We could cancel the show, which would have been a disaster for everyone. Or we carry on.’
Joshua continued: ‘It will be a different fight from the one I was expecting and I cannot afford not to take it seriously. I carry on preparing as hard as always. I’m not saying he’s going to beat me. But I am saying Takam won’t come in and lie down in the first round.
‘He’s fought some top heavyweights. Two of his only three defeats came against [Joseph] Parker and [Alexander] Povetkin. He’s only been stopped once, by Povetkin in the tenth round of an absolute war in Moscow.
‘People may not know him because he doesn’t have loads of twitter followers. But this is his golden ticket. His chance to shock the world.’
Full Joshua v Takam undercard
Anahi Esther Sanchez (17-2) vs Katie Taylor (6-0) – WBA female lightweight title
Khalid Yafai (22-0) vs Sho Ishida (24-0) – WBA super flyweight title
Dillian Whyte ( 21-1) vs Robert Helenius (25-1) – WBC Silver heavyweight title
Lenroy Thomas (21-4) vs Dave Allen (12-3-1) – Commonwealth heavyweight title
Frank Buglioni (20-2-1) vs Callum Johnson (16-0) – British & Commonwealth light heavyweight titles
Lawrence Okolie (5-0) vs TBA
Joe Cordina (4-0) vs TBA
Joshua Buatsi (2-0) vs TBA
Joshua has never gone the distance during his professional career, but believes Takam could be the man to take him a full 12 rounds.
‘People have said “Joshua what round?” I think we’re going for a 10 to 12 round here you know. This guy’s head is like a block of cement.’