Thursday’s Top Rank on ESPN offering comes under a cloud. The headliner should have been Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller’s return to action after seeing his Heavyweight World title chance against Anthony Joshua go up in smoke due to a failed drug test.
Miller clearly hadn’t learned from his lesson, as he failed yet another test to rule him out of a return at The Bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Instead stepping up to the plate is former World title challenger and Heavyweight gatekeeper Carlos Takam (38-5-1, KO28) to give the show some credibility.
In a ten-rounder, Takam takes on Virginia’s Jerry Forrest (26-3, KO20), who has only been stopped once in a 29 fight professional career.
Takam has fought a who’s who of modern Heavyweights, and is a tough nut to crack. The 39-year-old French Cameroonian has been a professional for nearly 20 years, tasted defeat for the first time in June 2009 in an eight round points defeat to Gregory Tony in France.
Eleven straight wins followed, until a majority draw in Canada against Mike Perez in January 2014. He rebounded though with a clear points win over former world title challenger Tony Thompson to win the WBC Silver belt.
But, he lost it in his next fight in an up and down affair with Alexander Povetkin.
Takam was level on all three cards after eight rounds, but faded, knocked down in round nine before being dropped and knocked out in round ten.
Takam resumed his career with three wins on the trot, before Joseph Parker took a competitive points win in New Zealand in May 2016.
Over a year later came a dream chance at the WBA (Super) IBF and WBO belts as Kubrat Pulev pulled out 12 days away from a contest with Anthony Joshua in Cardiff.
In stepped Takam, who again gave a good account of himself before being stopped in ten.
His comeback from this defeat ended in disaster though in a thriller with Dereck Chisora at the O2 Arena in London, when well ahead. Chisora eventually found the bingo punches to halt Takam in eight.
Since that defeat, Takam has won another three straight fights, all against lower level opposition. As a Las Vegas resident these days, he was ideally placed to take Jarrell Miller’s place in the main event this Thursday.
Jerry Forrest shouldn’t pose too many problems for Takam, but will obviously be looking to make a name for himself.
Two of Forrest’s defeats came in his first nine bouts, to former Heavyweight world title challenger Gerald Washington (Lost KO2) in August 2013, and then former Cruiserweight World title challenger, and current Heavyweight contender, Michael Hunter on points over eight rounds three months later.
Most of his wins have come against operators with more losses than wins, and he is coming off a second round knockout win against the 3-25-1 Martez Williamson in September last year.
His previous fight to that saw a third loss of his career, a split decision reverse to the unbeaten Jermaine Franklin in July 2019 over ten rounds.
Prediction: Takam may have some rust to shed after receiving the call for this fight at short notice, although he did last enter a ring in February. It may be an early win if Takam can put early heat on Forrest, but the likelihood is that if Forrest can withstand an early barrage, he can make the ten round distance, where Takam should take a wide points win.
There is a ‘Big Baby’ on the card, but its most certainly not Miller. Toledo Ohio’s Jared ‘Big Baby’ Anderson (4-0, KO4) looks to maintain his 100% knockout ratio against Hector Perez (7-2, KO3) in a Heavyweight four-rounder.
Carlos Castro (25-0, KO10) is involved in the other ten round attraction on the card in a Super-Bantamweight affair against Mexico’s Cesar Suarez (25-8, KO19).
28-year-old Suarez is a former World title challenger, having been clearly outscored in a tilt at Nonito Donaire’s WBO Super Bantamweight belt in December 2015.
He was also stopped in five in a challenge for the interim version in Ghana in January 2018 against Isaac Dogboe.
Castro is coming off a win against another former World title challenger in Jesus Ruiz, a majority points win in February this year.
A pair of six round fights complete the card. In a battle of the unbeaten, Joshafat Ortiz (7-0, KO4) and Joshua Orta (6-0, KO2) go toe to toe at Super-Featherweight, whilst at Middleweight, Fred Wilson Junior (6-0-2, KO2) meets Donte Stubbs (6-1, KO2) who lost his unbeaten record just a week ago against Isiah Jones.