A week after the passing of his father, former world heavyweight title challenger Carlos Takam held off a late rally by Jerry Forrest to prevail in ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on Thursday night.
An aggressive Forrest (26-4, 20 KOs) finished strongly and won three of the last four rounds on two of the judges’ scorecards, but the experienced Takam had already built a significant lead. Scores were 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94.
Takam, stopped by Anthony Joshua and Dereck Chisora in 2017 and 2018 respectively, has now won four on the trot as he remains on the periphery of world title contention. He took the fight on two weeks’ notice after Forrest’s original foe, Jarrell Miller, failed a drug test.
“My father passed away a week ago, so I came into the fight with a heavy heart. It may not have been a spectacular knockout, but most importantly, we got the win,” said the 39-year-old Takam, (39-5-1, 28 KOs). “We took this fight on short notice, but the opportunity on ESPN was too big to pass up. We knew we could beat him regardless.
“I want anyone in the top five, or a title shot if that materialises.”
On the undercard, Phoenix’s world class super-bantam Carlos Castro (26-0, 11 KOs) scored his most significant victory to date when former WBO title challenger Cesar Juarez (25-9-1, 19 KOs) was withdrawn after the fourth round by his corner.
Mexican Juarez tried to steamroller Castro with aggression early on, but was battered relentlessly downstairs with a steady stream of withering body shots. He wanted to continue, but his corner saved him from his own bravery.
“I’m number two in the WBC [122-pound rankings], I’m ready for anything,” Castro told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna afterwards. “I’ll fight for the interim title, whatever. I want [WBC champion] Rey Vargas.
“I admire Cesar Juarez as a Mexican warrior and for everything he’s given the sport. I told him it was an honour to share the ring with him. I want any title opportunity or an interim title shot. Whatever comes my way, I am ready. I am highly ranked and prepared for the next step.”
Nine days after his first pro loss, middleweight Donte Stubbs (7-1, 2 KOs) returned the favour to upset previously unbeaten Fred Wilson Jr. (6-1-2, 2 KOs). Stubbs scored knockdowns in the third and fifth rounds while. Wilson had a point deducted for holding in the fourth. Scores were 58-53 (twice) and 58-54.
In an eventful first round, welterweight Corey Champion (2-3, 2 KOs) overcame a double knockdown, reminiscent of when Cello Renda and Paul Samuels landed simultaneous blows in 2009, to stop Peter Cortez (2-2, 1 KO) later in the opening session.
Champion dropped Cortez early in the round before the double knockdown occurred when the fighters landed consecutive right hands. The victor seemed the worse for wear, but he recovered to stop Cortez in an undercard gem.
In a battle of undefeated 130lbs prospects, Joshafat Ortiz (8-0, 4 KOs) edged Joshua Orta (6-1, 2 KOs) by majority decision. Scores were 58-56 (twice) and 57-57.