Anthony Joshua retained his WBA ‘super’ and IBF heavyweight titles with a 10th-round stoppage win over Carlos Takam after a brutal battle in Cardiff.
The unbeaten 28-year-old suffered a suspected broken nose after a head clash in the second round, but gradually broke down the brave resistance of Takam to bring up his 20th straight knockout win.
Joshua’s preparations were disrupted last week, with Takam replacing the injured Kubrat Pulev, and the France-based Cameroonian displayed his renowned durability as he dragged Britain’s star boxer into a damaging dogfight.
The flaming letters ‘AJ’ signalled the arrival of Joshua, who resisted the desire to make a blazing start to his latest title defence, deciding instead to test out his heavy artillery in the first round.
Joshua edged menacingly forward in the opener, pumping out a ramrod jab, and a few range-finding right hands sent Takam scuttling back towards the ropes.
Heads clashed nastily in the second round as the bullish Takam lunged forward recklessly to leave Joshua with a badly bloodied nose, although this stung the champion into action as he unleashed a clubbing left hook.
The sight of blood seemed to enliven Takam, who landed a left-hand counter in the third, but Joshua would inflict a more serious injury on Takam in the fourth as a slashing right hook opened a cut over his right eye.
He was still blinking through a crimson cloud as Joshua dropped him with a left hand and there were concerned words from referee Phil Edwards in the corner before Takam opted to battle on.
Joshua worsened the gaping wound with more thudding punches in the fifth, while a jolting uppercut had Takam on unsteady legs in the sixth, although he somehow remained on his feet and shared a defiant stare with his attacker.
Takam’s swollen face was a mask of blood and yet he still managed to stall Joshua’s march with two right hands in the seventh.
Joshua continued to chop away at Takam’s tree-like physique with booming body shots in the eighth, but the 36-year-old was not yet ready to topple as he hit back with hooks in the ninth.
But a savage encounter was ended in the 10th as Joshua staggered Takam with an uppercut and then a straight right hand prompted the swift intervention of Edwards, who mercifully waved off the fight.