The 39-year-old Carlos Takam will try to work his way into the heavyweight elite one more time when he takes on Jerry Forrest in the main event of a Thursday Top Rank Boxing card on ESPN.

Carlos Takam Jerry Forrest
Carlos Takam (left) will fight Jerry Forrest (right) in a battle between two men who want to prove they are relevant in the heavyweight division. (Image: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Boxing)

Takam (38-5-1, 28 KOs) stepped into the fight last week as a replacement for Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, who once again failed a pre-fight drug test.

Takam Ready for One Last Heavyweight Run

That allowed Forrest (26-3, 20 KOs) to stay on the Las Vegas card against another quality opponent.

“It would’ve been a real, real hit to him to have this fight canceled,” Forrest’s promoter, Lou DiBella, told ESPN. “[Top Rank’s] immediate instinct was that this kid did nothing wrong and he should stay on the card. It’s a real good crossroads fight. The winner of this fight is probably going to get a real big opportunity, and it’s a big step back for the loser, and for Takam it could be the end.”

Takam last reached relevance in the heavyweight title picture back in 2017 when Anthony Joshua stopped him in the 10th round of a championship fight. A subsequent loss to Dereck Chisora pushed Takam out of the upper echelons of the division. He’s since won three straight fights, and was ready for action against another second-tier heavyweight when the opportunity arose.

“[Takam] lives in Henderson and he’s been training for several months according to his promoter, Joe DeGuardia,” Top Rank vice president of boxing operation Carl Moretti told ESPN. “So, for a change, we caught a bit of luck and were able to replace Miller vs. Forrest.”

A Stepping Stone to Bigger Fights

The 32-year-old Forrest won 18 straight fights before dropping a split decision to Jermaine Franklin last year. After winning a tune-up fight against Martez Williamson in September, Forrest looked for another fight that could potentially boost his credentials and move him into the ranks of the big-name heavyweights who can book fights against contenders.

Takam isn’t nearly the name that Miller would have been. However, his history of fighting top-tier competition means Forrest’s stock could rise quickly with a win.

Takam vs. Forrest Odds

  • Main Event: Carlos Takam (-159) vs. Jerry Forrest (+115)
  • Co-Main Event: Carlos Castro (-1667) vs. Cesar Juarez (+650)

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

That said, Deguardia thinks that same history will give Takam a decisive advantage on Thursday night.

“Carlos has fought the top, top level of competition,” DeGuardia told “He’s been in this situation, particularly with the Joshua fight. He has done this before and he’s got that mentality that you like in a fighter, that he’s been able to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities when they arise.”

Takam enters the bout as a -159 favorite over Forrest (+115), according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Those odds reflect Takam’s edge in big fight experience. While Forrest has fought some very good heavyweights – he lost to fringe contenders Gerald Washington and Michael Hunter early in his career – Takam’s fight with Joshua showed he can hang with the best in the world, at least for a while. Throw in battles with the likes of Alexander Povetkin and Tony Thompson, and Takam has shown a level of quality in his past that Forrest will struggle to match.