Joe Joyce stops Carlos Takam in sixth round to keep heavyweight title hopes alive

Joe Joyce took a big step toward a world heavyweight title shot with a sixth-round TKO over Carlos Takam in London on Saturday.

Joyce produced a clinical finish to defeat Takam and maintained his place as the WBO's leading contender behind Oleksandr Usyk, the Ukrainian who will get his mandatory shot against world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on Sept. 25.

Joyce said he wants the winner of that fight.

"I want A.J. or Usyk," Joyce said. "I don't need any more tests. I'm ready now."

But the 35-year-old Joyce (13-0, 12 KOs), from Putney in London, struggled to deal with Takam until early in the sixth round, when he took command. Takam, 40, who is five inches shorter than Joyce, caught him numerous times before the English boxer launched an ambush in Round 6.

On paper, it was another stoppage win for "Juggernaut" Joyce, after he knocked out English rival Daniel Dubois in 10 rounds in November. But Joyce sustained some significant blows from Takam in the early rounds and could not pinpoint his opponent.

"He hit me with some good shots," Joyce said. "I worked him out and where to land. I had to take my opportunity when he came. I'm pretty tough. I weathered the storm and came back."

For Cameroon-born, Nevada-based Takam (39-6-1, 28 KOs), this was another defeat in the United Kingdom after being stopped in 10 rounds by Joshua when he stepped in as a late substitute opponent for the WBA, IBF and WBO world title fight in 2017.

A year later, Takam was beaten by Dereck Chisora in the UK, but he then rattled off four successive wins after moving from France to the United States. He arrived in London full of confidence.

Takam gave Joyce an early warning of his appetite and danger when he finished the first round firing right hands from the front foot.

Joyce tried to establish his jab in the second round, but once again it was Takam who finished the session stronger with two hard right hooks.

Takam repeatedly found holes in Joyce's defense despite the height difference. Takam showed impressive energy and ambition while Joyce struggled to get his jab going.

However, Joyce burst to life at the start of the sixth, stunning Takam with a left hook. Joyce seized his chance with Takam dazed and launched a sustained assault. When Joyce rocked Takam back on his heels with his right hand, referee Steve Gray stepped in to stop the fight 49 seconds into the round.

Takam was unhappy with the stoppage, but he was not throwing punches and was on wobbly feet.

Joyce might have to wait until next year for his shot, with the winner of the Joshua-Usyk fight likely to pursue a title unification bout following the Oct. 9 clash between WBC champion Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. However, if the winner of Joshua-Usyk decides to give up the WBO belt to make a fight against the victor of Fury-Wilder, then Joyce would fight for the vacant WBO title in his next bout.

"He's the mandatory challenger, No. 1 now to the winner of Joshua-Usyk," promoter Frank Warren said. "Provided A.J. wins and Tyson wins, they will fight next and [Joyce] will fight the winner."