By Keith Idec
Anthony Joshua extended his knockout streak Saturday night, but it wasn’t the most convincing stoppage of the British superstar’s career.
Referee Phil Edwards stepped in to halt Joshua’s fight against Carlos Takam at 1:34 of the 10th round, which drew some boos from even a pro-Joshua, sellout crowd of approximately 78,000 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Takam had cuts around both eyes and had been blasted by a Joshua right hand to his jaw just before Edwards ended their bout, but Takam wasn’t at all pleased about the suspect stoppage.
Nevertheless, Joshua defended his IBF, IBO and WBA heavyweight titles and kept his perfect knockout record intact (20-0, 20 KOs).
The 6-feet-1½, 235½-pound Takam didn’t win many rounds, but displayed toughness and never stopped trying to win their fight. The 6-feet-6, 254-pound Joshua, 28, was listed as a 50-1 favorite by numerous Internet sports books before Saturday’s fight.
“As you can see, it was a good fight up until the ref stopped it,” Joshua told Sky Sports in the ring following the fight. “So up until then, I have the utmost respect for Takam for putting on a good show. As I said, I have no interest with what’s going on with the officials. That’s not my job. My job is to worry about my opponent.
“I was watching him, I was trying to break him down round-by-round and unfortunately the ref stopped before I – but I think people wanna see Takam unconscious, on the floor. Am I right? Am I right? OK. So now I understand. And that’s what I was trying to get to – 10 rounds, 11 rounds, 12 rounds, we was getting there. But as I said, I didn’t have control over the ref’s decision. So we get the win, and now we’re on to a positive 2018.”
Cameroon’s Takam (35-4-1, 27 KOs) lost by knockout for just the second time in his 12-year pro career. Prior to Saturday night, only former WBA champion Alexander Povetkin (32-1, 23 KOs) had knocked out Takam, who lost that October 2014 fight in the 10th round in Moscow.
The 36-year-old contender took the fight against Joshua on just 12 days’ notice. Joshua was supposed to make a mandatory defense of his IBF championship against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs), but Pulev pulled out of the bout October 16 due to a shoulder injury.
Before the strange stoppage, Takam hit Joshua with a flush right hand about 45 seconds into the seventh round, perhaps the best three minutes to that point in the fight for Takam. Joshua landed two right hands around the one-minute mark of the sixth round that affected Takam.
Takam wiped blood away from a cut around his right eye throughout the fifth round, but was aggressive and tried to hurt Joshua with right hands. An unfazed Joshua threw plenty of power shots of his own in the fifth, but most missed Takam.
Joshua landed a counter right uppercut just after the midway point of the fourth round and followed it up with a straight fight hand that knocked Takam backward. That uppercut caused a cut around Takam’s right eye.
Later in the fourth, Joshua drilled Takam with a short left hook that made a stumbling Takam use his left glove to avoid going down. That counted as the third knockdown of Takam’s career.
Takam connected with a left hook right before the one-minute mark of the third round.
An accidental clash of heads about 40 seconds into the second round caused blood to flow from Joshua’s nose. Seeing his own blood seemed to energize Joshua, who landed a left hook that knocked Takam off balance just before the halfway point of the round.
Joshua said following the fight that he thinks his nose is broken, but that it didn’t impact his performance too much.
“It feels it [like a broken nose],” Joshua said. “But you know what? He’s like Holyfield, coming under, popping up. But this is championship fighting. Image it broke, I couldn’t breathe and he started catching up in the later rounds? It would’ve been a massive disaster. So I had to keep my cool. And as I said, I’ve got a few months to heal it up. I’ll go and see some good doctors to crack it back in place, and then we’ll continue in training.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.