Boxing: Anthony Joshua wants a bout in Africa on the scale of 'The Rumble in the Jungle'

Britain's world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has his eyes set on Nigeria as his mother Yeta is Nigerian and his father Robert Irish-Nigerian.
Britain's world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has his eyes set on Nigeria as his mother Yeta is Nigerian and his father Robert Irish-Nigerian.PHOTO: REUTERS

Cardiff, United Kingdom (AFP) - Britain's world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua hopes his long-held dream to fight in Africa will move a step closer with a successful defence of his IBF (International Boxing Federation) and WBA (World Boxing Association) belts against Cameroon-born Carlos Takam on Saturday (Oct 28).

Joshua - who weighed in at a career-heaviest 114.3kg compared to Takam's 106.5kg - has his eyes set on Nigeria as his mother Yeta is Nigerian and his father Robert Irish-Nigerian.

The 28-year-old has won all 19 of his professional bouts including most memorably over Ukrainian great Wladimir Klitschko for the WBA title in April.

And he said one of the benefits of Takam replacing original Bulgarian opponent Kubrat Pulev is that his opponent is from Africa, although he now fights under the banner of France.

"It's definitely a blessing in disguise," said Joshua, on the eve of a bout that could earn him up to £15 million (S$26.8 million).

"There's massive interest. Takam's good, he's from Cameroon; it's Africa, people are watching for sure.

"It doesn't have to be an African fighter to fight there; it definitely has to be a champion though. We have to know who they are, and providing there's no politics, anything's possible right now."

Arguably the greatest sporting event in African history, "The Rumble in the Jungle" was a fight in Kinshasa in October 1974 between the late, great Muhammad Ali and then undefeated world heavyweight champion George Foreman. Ali won by knockout in the eighth round.

The 2012 Olympic champion said that his weight reflected how fit he felt.

"I've been doing a lot of running: maybe I'm starting to fill out as I get older, so who knows what it is? I definitely feel a lot fitter," said Joshua.

Takam, who followed Joshua back to his hotel after a previous bout in 2016 and said he wanted to fight him there and then, added that he was in good shape and not just turning up for a pay cheque.

"When I heard the news about the fight I was already preparing," said the 36-year-old.

"I invite you to see what will happen. It's going to be a great fight. I'm coming to beat him."