Carlos Takam joins the heavyweight extravaganza in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when he collides with fellow African Martin Bakole tomorrow night on the undercard of Tyson Fury Vs Francis Ngannou.
The 42 year old veteran finds himself fighting in the Middle East due to his Cameroon connections.
“I was talking to a guy from the UK yesterday, he said ‘nobody wants to fight Martin.’” Takam said in an exclusive interview for ProBox TV. “This fight happened because of me. When I was speaking with Francis [Ngannou] he wanted me on this show. He asked me ‘who do you want to fight?’ I said ‘Martin Bakole.’ He said ‘okay, I’m going to arrange that for you.’ I asked for that fight.
“Francis Ngannou is like my little brother. We are very close, you know. We come from the same country in Africa, Cameroon, and then we both came to France.”
Ngannou comes to face Fury tomorrow night as an unknown quantity having never had a professional boxing match. The former UFC heavyweight champion comes to the MiddleEast with just a puncher's chance.
“Nobody believes in him,” Takam continued, “I’ve never seen Francis train like that before. I’ve watched him train for a long time, all his training, but never like this. He’s really really good. I’ve sparred Francis many times but not for this fight [breaks out into laughter]. Francis started with boxing, he started boxing when he was in Africa. Then when he came to Paris he told me he was going to do MMA. I asked him; ‘Why no boxing?’ He told me ‘boxing is super complicated’ I was like ‘okay, go do your MMA.’ Now it is crazy he is fighting Tyson Fury. I’m so proud of him. I believe Francis can win, he is going to win. In the heavyweight division you can always have a surprise, it only takes one punch.”
Takam (40-7-1, 28 KOs) comes off an upset win over Olympic Gold medalist Tony Yoka this past March, defeating the Frenchman in a split decision win in Paris. As the fight concluded Takam consoled the man who had picked up a second straight defeat.
“I was pissed off!” Takam explained his feeling once his hand was raised in the French capital. “I was not happy because Tony brought boxing back to France since I have been living in Las Vegas. People like boxing in the country again because of him. The fans need to respect him. I told him ‘brother, you are not finished, keep working and you can do it.’ It is not the end for him. Tony used to train with me in my gym in Paris, I know he is tough. We trained together when he was going to the Olympic Games. I know him very well.
“When they told me I was going to fight him I thought it was a joke. The promoter said ‘no, we want you to fight Tony.’ I was like; ‘Are you serious? Whatever, let's do it.’ It was nice to fight back in France, I think it was around ten years since. It was like a comeback home fight. I was very happy. Everyone in France was excited about the fight, they were happy for me to come back, a lot of people said ‘I will come and support you.’ It was very exciting.”