WBA and IBF heavyweight world champion extends record to 20 unbeaten knockout victories but decision in Cardiff was met by boos by an unhappy 76,000 crowd, which obviously wanted to see more dramatic and bloodied end.
Anthony Joshua defended the referee’s decision to stop his world heavyweight title fight against Carlos Takam despite boos ringing out inside the Principality Stadium on Saturday night.
WBA and IBF heavyweight champion Joshua who extended his unbeaten record to 20 knockouts in 20 fights, found the going much tougher than many expected against 36-year-old Takam, who took the fight at just 12 days’ notice following Kubrat Pulev’s withdrawal through injury.
Joshua, still on the young side of the division at 28 years old, suffered a swollen nose on the second round following a collision with Takam’s head, and the injury appeared to destabilise the Watford-born fighter who loves his Nigerian roots.
However, he remained in control throughout the bout, scoring a knockdown in the fourth round along with inflicting two large cuts above Takam’s eyes, and referee Phil Edwards decided that the French-based Cameroonian was not in a fit state to continue beyond the 10th round, much to the frustration of the Cardiff crowd that felt his defiance and chin has earned the right to go the distance and that he was not in too much trouble against a tiring Joshua.
Former Olympic gold medallist Joshua backed Edwards though, and admitted that it is not his concern to protect Takam as that is what a referee is there to do.
“I don’t care if I spark him out, it goes 12 rounds or the ref ends it,” said Joshua in the post-fight press conference. “People want to see the fighters I fight unconscious every time.
“I was delivering: I put him down, I hurt him, I slashed both of his eyes, he was bleeding. My shorts and boots were pure white and now they’re pink. People wanted to see him unconscious and I was trying, but the ref’s job is to let the fighter live on another day.
“Takam was showing the ref his eyes were nearly hanging off from the cuts, they were deep. When he was stopped he wanted to carry on: that’s a fighter’s instinct. Twelve rounds is fine, the stoppage is fine: I’m happy I got the win and can move on.”
Takam was visibly frustrated with the stoppage – which drew widespread jeers across the stadium – and called for a rematch with Joshua, something that he is unlikely to get as Joshua weighs up unifying the division against either WBC title holder Deontay Wilder or IBO champion Joseph Parker.
Joshua did have warm words for Takam after the fight though, demonstrating that he had earned the champion’s respect the hard way after refusing to be punched out of the fight – and for most of the bout he looked like being the first man to take Joshua the distance.
“Takam, it was a pleasure,” Joshua said in the ring. “I come to fight, I don’t sit on the edge and make decisions. It was a good fight until the ref stopped it, so I have the utmost respect for Takam.” [Independent.co.uk]