Anthony Joshua made a successful first defence of the unified world heavyweight championship with a tenth round stoppage victory over Carlos Takam in front of close to 80,000 spectators in Cardiff.

Joshua, making the fourth defence of his IBF belt, but the first of the WBA (super) strap he won in April’s thrilling showdown with Wladimir Klitschko, was made to work hard by durable replacement opponent Takam, who was left disappointed by the referee’s decision to bring the bout to a halt one minute and 34 seconds in to the third from last round.

Despite appearing to suffer a broken nose after a clash of heads in round two, the champion remained in control throughout, flooring his determined opponent in round four before finally securing the win with a barrage of punishing uppercuts in the tenth.

“My nose feels broken. I had to keep my cool. I kept my composure and continued the fight” – Anthony joshua

“It was a good fight up until the referee stopped it”, remarked Joshua immediately following the conclusion of the bout.

“I have the utmost respect for Takam for putting on a show.

“[My nose] feels broken. But this is championship fighting. Imagine it broke and I couldn’t breathe and he started catching up in the later rounds? It would have been a massive disaster, I had to keep my cool”, said Joshua.

“You have to control these situations. I kept my composure and continued the fight.”

After a cagey and tense opening round, in which champion Joshua tried to establish the jab, the fight took an awkward turn for the titleholder early in the second as Takam’s head made contact with his nose, drawing blood, as the challenger tried to bob and weave his way inside the Joshua jab.

But that setback did not stop Joshua from dominating the opening exchanges as he whipped in powerful shots to the head and body.

And the fight burst in to life in the fourth as Joshua stepped on the accelerator, opening a nasty cut above Takam’s right eye and then sending in a big right hook that forced the challenger to ground a glove, bringing a count of eight late in the round.

Despite heavy bleeding from the eye Takam came out for the fifth and was subjected to a barrage of punishment from Joshua. The referee brought the ringside doctor in to check on the eye, and with his blessing the fight continued, with Takam somehow surviving to hear the bell.

Takam was wobbled by a Joshua uppercut in the sixth but bravely fought on, enjoying success of his own in the seventh. The doctor was again called to check on the eye between the eighth and ninth rounds, with Takam emerging to go on the front foot.

“I don’t know why the referee stopped the fight. I’d want a rematch” – Carlos takam

But the end was near as Joshua found the energy to rock Takam with a big uppercut in the tenth before piling on the punishment and landing another uppercut flush on his opponents chin, leading referee Phil Edwards to step in and wave the fight off, a decision which drew some boos from the capacity crowd at the Principality Stadium.

Challenger Takam was left disappointed by the decision to end the fight prematurely.

“I don’t know why the referee stopped the fight”, claimed the Frenchman, who was called in as a late replacement after Joshua’s scheduled opponent Kubrat Pulev suffered a shoulder injury.

“I respect Anthony, he is a great champion.

“[But] I had only 12 days to prepare. I’d want a rematch, if Anthony will give it to me”, added the challenger.

“wilder, parker, fury. those are the fights for 2018” – eddie hearn

And Joshua would not be drawn on whether the referee had made the correct decision in ending the bout.

“I have no interest in what is going on with the officials, that’s not my job”, said Joshua.

“My job is to worry about my opponent. I was trying to break him down round by round. I think people [booed because they] wanted to see Takam unconscious on the floor”, added the champion, who is targeting more big fights in 2018.

“AJ wants the [other world heavyweight title] belts”, said his promoter Eddie Hearn, who is eyeing up unification fights with the other divisional champions, as well as a future showdown with undefeated former unified world champion Tyson Fury, who remains without a boxing licence after admitting to drug use in the period which followed his victory over then champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.

“Deontay Wilder [WBC champion], Joseph Parker [WBO champion] and Tyson Fury. Those are the fights for 2018”, claimed Hearn.

Deontay Wilder will have the chance to respond as he defends his WBC title in New York this coming Saturday (November 4th) against Haiti’s Bermane Stiverne, the man he won the title from back in 2015.

Alistair Sargent, Editor (Sport)

(-Picture, Karl-Ludwig Poggemann)