In an alternate reality, Joe Joyce might be fighting Oleksandr Usyk this summer, but a reshuffling of the heavyweight pack means the Putney ‘Juggernaut’ is facing former world title challenger Carlos Takam next Saturday instead.

When it appeared that rival champions Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua were meeting for the undisputed heavyweight title in Saudi Arabia in August, Joyce was set to face Ukrainian maestro Usyk for the WBO’s Interim belt to stop the four titles from fragmenting.

When Fury-Joshua fell through, so did WBO No.2 contender Joyce’s fight with the Puerto Rican organisation’s mandatory challenger Usyk, who is now set to clash with ‘AJ’ at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25.

The unbeaten Joyce will now sharpen his skills against the battle-tested Takam at the SSE Arena in Wembley on July 24 and the French-Cameroonian believes he is a tougher proposition than Usyk. Back in their amateur days, Joyce lost a decision to Usyk in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) and Takam feels he is an unknown, and therefore more dangerous, opponent. 

“I am a more difficult fight for Joe than Usyk,” said Takam. “Joe knows Usyk because they boxed before and Usyk knows Joe.

“I am a problem because Joe has never fought someone like Carlos Takam. How am I going to fight him? It’s a surprise. I have experience. He has never fought anybody with my experience. That’s why I say he hasn’t fought anyone like me.

“He is going to try and put me down, I am going to try and put him down. Whoever puts someone down first is the winner. I want to hurt him like he is going to want to hurt me. We are going to punch each other and I am ready for that fight.”