Anthony Joshua 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.
The result, a probably broken nose, served only to fire up AJ and the world champion soon shifted through the gears, finding his rhythm and stopping his opponent in round 10 following a knock-down some rounds prior.
Anthony Joshua cemented his status as the best pound for pound heavyweight boxer on the planet by beating Carlos Takam
Following 10 rounds of high energy boxing Joshua emerged victorious after the referee brought an end to the contest
Takam was inspected on several occasions after two huge cuts above his eyes caused a relentless outpouring of blood
Joshua towers over his opponent after raining down a barrage of punishment on Takam in the middle rounds
A resilient and battled-hardened Takam recoils after taking a big hit from Joshua but soaks up the pressure
Joshua keeps the pressure on full throttle and lunges at Takam at optimum force as Takam braces himself for impact
Joshua knocks Takam down to the canvas in the fourth round after opening a huge cut above his opponent’s right eye
The challenger couldn’t maintain his footing after the power hit, but was able to progress into the following rounds
Joshua took to the first round with a conservative approach, sensing out his opponent Takam in the opening stages
After Takam connected with Joshua’s nose with his head, the world heavyweight champion turned up the pressure
The Watford-born boxer unleashes a flurry of blows upon his opponents during the opening rounds in Cardiff
All roads led to Cardiff, even though many of them were closed and the main-line railway arteries were blocked by untimely track repairs.
They found their way, in their tens of thousands, in expectation of shattering the attendance record for the Pincipality Stadium set at 74,600 for European rugby’s 2002 Heineken Cup Final.
It certainly looked as if they had done that. Even up in the high, dark eves of the roof not an empty seat was visible.
Such is the Pied Piper magnetism of Joshua.
The streets of the Welsh capital were packed, also, for City’s match against Millwall, a sell-out comedy show at the Motorpoint Arena and the usual Saturday night party crowd.
But the largest throng of all was heading for the heavyweight boxing.
It hardly seems to matter who AJ is fighting. At least for the moment. These are must-be-there occasions for an audience reaching out further and further beyond the boxing fan base. A quorum of celebrities included. Although the time is now approaching when the fascination of the wider public’s love affair with Joshua will have to be solidified against bigger men of greater reputation than Takam.
Joshua set about stalking his opponent and landed a huge punch on Takam’s eye which opened a sizeable cut
The legendary Michael Buffer took centre stage in Cardiff to announce both boxers with his iconic, booming voice
The roars which went up when pictures of Joshua’s arrival in the bowels of the stadium lit up the giant screens reverberated around town, even though that retractable roof was long closed.
Joshua cut his teeth on these big stadium nights at Wembley six months ago. How Takam would take to arriving in this Colosseum, from Cameroon via a Paris suburb, was one of the evening’s intrigues.
More so to begin with than the outcome, with Joshua the 1-66 odds-on favourite for his 20th professional victory.
‘Oh, Anthony Joshua,’ the congregation chorused. Much more deafeningly, it has be said than the Jeremy Corbyn version of that refrain.
Their hero had predicted fireworks and some indoor ones went off even as he was coming to the ring. As he made his way, the roars nearly lifted the roof off.
Then came a power cut. The giant screens blacked out. The darkened ring was illuminated only by Joshua’s white robe. Michael Buffer’s microphone went dead.
Mercifully, the interruption was brief.
Joshua makes his way to the ring as camera flashes pepper the crowd with spectators eager to get a shot of the champion
Flanked either side by security Joshua cut a cool and composed figure as he casually ambled through to the ring
Takam entered the area with his hood up, greeted by a chorus of boos from the patriotic British audience
Joshua received a visit from none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic while taping up his hands ahead of the ring walk
The pair shared light-hearted conversation in the build up to the world heavyweight showdown
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.
The nose kept bleeding in the third but Joshua ignored it as he stalked his prey. Takam was warned by referee Phil Edwards about another use of his head, but then let go with solid punches off his own which may have given him his first round.
Takam’s elusive movement and bursts of energy was setting a puzzle. Joshua began solving it with his first heavy artillery of the engagement. One big burst dropped Takam onto his knee for a count but the bell intervened before AJ could finish the job in the fourth.
Joshua’s final salvo of the fourth had cut Takam above the right eye. As the blood flow increased the referee called a doctor to examine Takam. They allowed him to carry on but he was having trouble seeing the increasing volume of Joshua’s big punches. Still he took them with great courage. And even came back into it in the final seconds of the fifth.
Joshua posed for a picture with the Manchester United striker and Tony Bellew (right) before continuing his preparations
Ibrahimovic heads off to take his place in the front rows at the Principality Stadium to watch the blockbuster unfold
The venue was packed to the brim, with thousands of fans desperate to see the world champion in action
Over in the opposing dressing room Carlos Takam looked cool and collected despite the huge challenge ahead of him
Promoter Eddie Hearn made his way to ring side ahead of the headline event getting under way at the Principality Stadium
It seemed like only a matter of time now. Joshua was taking his, standing off and pot-shotting Takam with an impressive variety of heavy punches. But, still, Takam was taking them and occasionally firing back.
Joshua had predicted it take him several rounds to dislodge the ultra-resilient Takam. It was hard work and as he slowed a little the Frenchman caught him a fusillade of hefty hooks with both hands to take the seventh.
Joshua looked in need of the breather when Mr Edwards led him his corner for a glove tie to be trimmed. When they re-joined, he turned his attention to Takam’s body and enjoyed enough success in the eighth to put another round in his account.
Takam’s cut eye required further examination before they could start the ninth. Again he was waved back into the bloodied action. This one was a stand-off – until Takam went for it with some big left and right hooks. A massive late left from Joshua was not enough to give him the round in my book.
Takam was now with cut over both eyes. As he had against Klitschko, Joshua roused himself for an all or nothing effort. But when referee Edwards called a halt not only Takam complained the stoppage was too early.
There were boos of disappointment about the premature ending among the cheers for another Joshua KO victory.
Earlier in the evening Joshua’s old rival Dillian Whyte defeated the challenge of Robert Hellenious on the undercard
The sluggish contest was an unremarkable one which went the full distance and saw Whyte win by a points decision
Katie Taylor also confirmed herself as the champion of the world after defeating Argentina’s Anahi Esther Sanchez in style