Anthony Joshua successfully defended his WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles courtesy of 10th round stoppage win over Carlos Takam at the principality stadium in Cardiff. The victory ensures that Joshua extends his undefeated record to 20 professional fights.
Given the manner of the build-up to the fight, as Joshua’s previously scheduled opponent, Kubrat Pulev, withdrew just 12 days before the meeting, the Briton was always the likely victor. However, Takam provided a stern test and his performance is worthy of due credit.
Indeed were it not for Phil Edwards’ decision to stop the fight in round 10, a judgement that has since been the subject of considerable criticism, Takam could very easily have become the first of Joshua’s opponents to take him the full distance.
The fight also marked the return of boxing to the Principality Stadium for the first time in 10 years, and barring some minor technical difficulties, Cardiff’s 80,000 strong crowd produced a passionate and fervent atmosphere.
There is no doubting Joshua’s immense talent coupled with his ever-heightening reputation, and Saturday evening provided further evidence of this. Yet it also exposed certain weaknesses. Joshua was sluggish at times, and presented numerous opportunities for counter-punches, opportunities that perhaps a more formidable opponent, such as Deontay Wilder, would have been able to exploit.
Joshua sustained a broken nose in a collision with Takam during the second round, however he gathered the necessary strength to land a crucial blow during the fourth. The punch resulted in Takam sustaining a troublesome cut above the right eye, and it was an injury that greatly hindered the French-Cameroonian for the rest of the encounter. His subsequent strength of will and persistence to continue has since drawn praise and he gained the sentiment of the Welsh crowd, who were particularly incensed by Edwards’ decisions to call proceedings to an end.
Carl Frampton felt the decision did a ‘discredit to Takam’s toughness’, whilst Barry McGuigan argued that he deserved ‘the chance to stay in the fight’. It was certainly a contentious decision, but given the considerable blood flow from Takam’s injury one can understand the referee’s point of view.
AJ winning everything but that bad stoppage. Does a discredit to Takams toughness
— Carl Frampton MBE (@RealCFrampton) October 28, 2017
Irrespective of the fight’s premature end, Joshua had been superior throughout the completed nine rounds and whilst his performance was by no means perfect, he deserves praise for his adaptability in defeating a fighter of a completely different style to his previous opponents.
Looking forward, there are greater tests in the offing. Joseph Parker and Deontay Wilder represent very viable future match-ups, whilst the calls and aspirations for an encounter with Tyson Fury will persist. The happening of this fight is very much dependent upon the attitude of the self-proclaimed ‘Gypsy King’ and the actual level of his ambition to return to the sport. Fury represents one of sports most divisive figures, yet there are few who would begrudge the immense spectacle that would arise from such a fight.
It is now the time for speculation and intrigue as to Joshua’s next move, yet briefly he should reflect upon what has been an excellent 2017.
By Thomas Lambton