IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston weighs up Saturday night’s heavyweight collision between the ‘Juggernaut’ Joe Joyce and former world title challenger Carlos Takam, and pinpoints the betting value on the undercard.

Joe Joyce opened as something like a 9/2 favourite for tonight’s heavyweight fight with Carlos Takam at Wembley Arena on Saturday but the odds have got out of control, with Juggernaut Joe up to 14/1 in some spots.

So, we turn to the proposition market in search of value.

Joyce has stated he does not plan on this fight going the full 12 rounds. If you think he is right about that, Betfred offers Joyce to win by KO TKO DQ at 4/9 (-225). The general market for the fight to end inside the distance regardless of winner is 1/3 (-300). The price gets a little better for the fight to go under 10.5 rounds, with an industry-wide price of 4/6 (-150).

Those are the prices you’re looking at if you believe that Joyce will not be taken the distance. And there is good reason to believe Joyce will get the job done inside 12 rounds.

Joyce is a very big man indeed. He’s 6ft 6ins and he weighed in at almost 264lbs on Friday, to Takam’s 238½ lbs. While Joyce is 5lbs heavier than when he stopped Daniel Dubois last November, his weight for Takam is in the region of what he weighed when he bludgeoned the likes of Alexander Ustinov, Bermane Stiverne and Michael Wallisch.

There’s usually no messing around when Joyce is in the ring. He gets right down to business, moving in behind the jab and looking to land the right hand, the left hook, the right uppercut, in a methodical and steady stream of punches. It’s not easy for the other man to keep Joyce at bay.

Takam has a reputation for durability, of course. No one has blown him out quickly. But Takam is 40 years old and he’s been stopped before; it’s not as if he’s impervious to punishment. He’s built like a tank but he can be worn down.

Joyce, 35, isn’t an explosive type of puncher but he gets results through attrition. Joyce gives the impression of getting stronger as the rounds go by, like a steam train gaining momentum as it trundles down the track. And Joyce takes a very good punch. Dubois can really bang but he couldn’t stop Joyce’s inexorable advance. 

For an ageing fighter such as Takam, as tough and game as he is, it will likely get discouraging to have Joyce bearing down on him for round after round.

Takam has won his last four bouts but in his last fight, against the southpaw Jerry Forrest, he was looking his age in the last few rounds. Although Takam won the unanimous 10-round decision he was tiring down the stretch: Forrest won the eighth round on two judges’ cards, the ninth on two cards and the last round on all three cards. 

Forrest gave Takam a lot of respect and didn’t really start letting his hands go until the later rounds. But Joyce figures to be bringing the heat from the get-go.

I had the sense that Joyce would likely have got the stoppage against Dubois even if it hadn’t been for the swollen eye and orbital-bone damage. And if Joyce can grind down a young, big and powerful heavyweight such as Dubois, surely he can do the same against a veteran battler such as Takam.

Takam did really well to go into the 10th round against Anthony Joshua four years ago but the fact is that he took a beating. He suffered a flash knockdown (one glove touched the canvas) and  he was cut over both eyes. It was a courageous showing, and Takam’s constant movement and awkward cleverness gave Joshua some problems. But that was four years ago. Does Takam have the legs, at 40, to keep on the move for 12 rounds against Joyce?

While Joyce did have to go the full 12 rounds against a 34-year-old Bryant Jennings two years ago I view this as a learning fight against an opponent who had been 12 rounds with Wladimir Klitschko. I thought Joyce looked like an improved boxer when he faced Dubois. His jab was working beautifully and he just looked a more balanced all-around fighter.

Takam hasn’t travelled to London to roll over. His promoter, Joe DeGuardia, made the trip to be with his fighter. This indicates DeGuardia is bullish about his man’s chances. 

And this isn’t likely to be a walk in the park for Joyce despite the lopsided odds. Takam is smart and cagey. He’s clever at landing sneaky right hands and fighting in spurts, and his ducking and bobbing can make it difficult for taller opponents to land flush shots. But in the fight with Jerry Forrest, Takam was clearly feeling the pace in the later rounds. He even went to the wrong corner at the end of the ninth. Takam was able to move around, throw a punch here and there and tie up Forrest — but it won’t be so easy to do that against a relentless aggressor like Joyce. 

I’ve made the case for a Joyce win inside the distance, but I don’t see Takam going away easily. If a Joyce stoppage does indeed come, it isn’t likely to be until the second half of the 12-rounder so Joyce to win in rounds 7-12 at 7/5 (+140) isn’t a bad bet. I think I prefer the under 10.5 rounds, though. The price isn’t too bad, and if Takam makes it till halfway through round 11 then he’s likely to be there for the whole 12 rounds.

On the Queensberry Promotions undercard, I quite like the idea of the British welter title fight between Chris Jenkins and Ekow Essuman not going the distance. Jenkins is gritty and competent but he’s had a lot of hard fights and he’s had issues with cuts around the eyes. Essuman isn’t an especially hard hitter but he brings pressure and I’m not sure Jenkins will be able to stick to a moving, jabbing and counter-punching type of style for all 12 rounds. 

Essuman is the same age as Jenkins (32) but he looks the stronger, fresher fighter. I have a feeling this could be Essuman’s breakout type of fight. It’s an overdue big-stage opportunity for Essuman, and I must say he looked intense and steely determined at Friday’s weigh in. “Distance — No” is offered at +125 at some outlets.

Main image: Queensberry Promotions.