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Takam signs co-promotional deal with Top Rank

Top Rank on Wednesday signed former heavyweight world title challenger Carlos Takam to a co-promotional deal, the company announced.

Takam recently signed with Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing and had the first fight of that deal Sept. 14, a 10-round unanimous decision over Craig Lewis. His next fight will be the first of the co-promotional deal and will take place on an ESPN platform in early 2020, Top Rank said.

"Carlos Takam is an exciting, world-class heavyweight who always makes for outstanding fights," Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. "I look forward to working with Joe DeGuardia and his team, as we believe Carlos has what it takes to reach the top of the division."

Takam (37-5-1, 28 KOs), 38, of France, had signed to face former undisputed cruiserweight world champion and 2018 fighter of the year Oleksandr Usyk in May, when the undefeated Usyk was supposed to make his heavyweight debut.

However, Usyk suffered a biceps injury and the fight was called off. By the time Usyk was ready to return, Takam decided to sign with DeGuardia and the fight with Usyk did not come off.

Now Takam joins Top Rank, which has been getting more and more involved in the heavyweight division, having signed lineal champion Tyson Fury earlier this year. Other heavyweights Top Rank promotes or co-promotes include mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, former world title challenger Bryant Jennings, undefeated former European champion Agit Kabayel, 2016 Italian Olympian Guido Vianello, Philadelphia prospect Sonny Conto, and on Tuesday it signed Jared Anderson, the No. 1 amateur heavyweight in the United States.

"Carlos and I are pleased to be joining forces with Top Rank and ESPN," DeGuardia said. "Carlos will have all the opportunities needed to rise to the pinnacle of the heavyweight division, and we are certainly looking forward to 2020."

In 2017, Takam, a 14-year pro, got a shot at then-unified world titleholder Anthony Joshua, who had to work for hard for the 10th-round knockout victory. Takam then lost a second fight in a row, a hard-fought eighth-round knockout loss to Dereck Chisora. Takam has won two bouts in a row since.

"I am grateful and excited for the opportunity in my quest to become the heavyweight champion of the world," said Takam, who represented his native Cameroon in the 2004 Olympics. "I would like to thank my team for the great job they are doing and all my fans all over the world for their support."