Anthony Joshua stopped a resilient Carlos Takam in the 10th round to successfully defend his IBF and WBA heavyweight world titles in Cardiff.
The Briton made it 20 victories from as many bouts in front of an estimated 78,000 at the Principality Stadium.
Joshua’s nose was cut in the second by the head of Takam, 36, who replaced Kubrat Pulev 12 days before the bout.
Joshua, 28, then cut Takam’s eye in the fourth, but it took until round 10 for the Cameroon-born boxer to be stopped.
Joshua has now cemented his status as the best pound for pound heavyweight boxer on the planet after overpowering a resilient and determined Carlos Takam in front of a brimming Principality Stadium.
Eager to prove the bookmakers wrong who had stacks the odds so heavily against him, Takam started out determined to make a go of the showdown, digging in early on and catching Joshua with a clash of heads. Joshua talking in the ring, he said: “First and foremost, Cardiff thank you for coming out this evening.
“Takam, it was a pleasure. 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.
“I have no interest in what is going on with the officials, that’s not my job. I think people want to see Takam unconscious on the floor, and that’s what I was trying to get to.” Joshua’s gallant challenger Carlos Takam, who is asked whether the referee was right to stop the fight, replied: “No, I don’t think so.
“I don’t know why the referee stopped the match. I respect the champion and the UK fans, they are great fans and I am happy to box here. I don’t know why they stopped it.
“I want a rematch, I make my preparations with 12 days to fight Anthony. I want a rematch, I want to box him again, I want him, he is a great champion.”
After a brief short-out prior to the ring walk the power was back on in the area. Thankfully Joshua was with it as the first bell sounded. He bounded across the ring, perhaps open to stifle the expected early charge. AJ towered over the 6ft 1in Takam, who crouched even lower as if to minimise Joshua’s target further. He hardly threw a punch in the first, though, which Joshua took without landing many of his own.
Joshua, warned by trainer Rob McCracken that Takam possessed knock out power, was taking few risks at the start. But it was the challenger’s head rather his punches which inflicted he first facial damage of the night. Joshua reared away from the impact, which gave him a bloody nose, but then opened up in retaliation.