The stars came out to watch Anthony Joshua retain his world heavyweight title with a bruising victory over the brave Carlos Takam.
Hollywood A-listers Colin Farrell and Idris Elba were in the crowd at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium to see Joshua win with a 10th-round technical knockout to keep his hands on the IBF belt.
In his first fight since ending the career of the great and once-dominant Wladimir Klitschko, 28-year-old Joshua required his advantages in size, speed and power to gradually wear down his previously little-known opponent from France.
Bigger fights against superior opponents are expected to follow in 2018 – but in defeating his mandatory challenger and excluding that with Klitschko, the Briton unexpectedly faced the toughest match-up of his career.
Anthony Joshua cemented his status as the best pound-for-pound heavyweight boxer on the planet by beating Carlos Takam
Hollywood star Colin Farrell was spotted in the audience as Anthony Joshua retained his world heavyweight title. The Irish actor was pictured kissing a mystery brunette in the Cardiff crowd
Flawless: The unknown beauty gazed lovingly into her Hollywood hunk’s eyes as she completed her look with a stunning pendant necklace
Luther is in the building! Idris Elba also made an appearance at the fight, where Anthony Joshua was taking on Carlos Takam in front of an anticipated crowd of 80,000
Following 10 rounds of high-energy boxing, Joshua emerged victorious after the referee brought an end to the contest
Takam couldn’t hide his disappointment at the stoppage as the ref called time on the fight and boos rang out around the arena
Both boxers continued to battle on as referee Phil Edwards called an end to the spectacle midway through round 10
A blood-soaked Joshua walks away from his opponent as the realisation dawns that another career victory is his
Joshua finished the showdown with a smile though admitted his nose was likely broken following a clash of heads
The undisputed world No 1 swaggers around the ring in the aftermath, soaking up the adoration from the masses in Cardiff
As well as Farrell and Elba, Joshua had fellow sports stars cheering him on.
Manchester United footballers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rojo were in Cardiff, with Ibrahimovic sharing a joke with the champion before the fight started.
It was a tough night for Joshua, and Takam was still ducking, weaving and throwing back the occasional punch when referee Phil Edwards called a halt.
It was the 20th straight knock-out for the British star and another victory hammered out on a night of blood and thrills. He is still the heavyweight champion of the world but few predicted it would be this challenging.
His gallant challenger threw down the gauntlet again by demanding a rematch and Joshua’s army cheered as lustily for him as for the man they had turned out in such numbers as to smash the attendance record for this hallowed Welsh ground.
Joshua told them: ‘For all of you who wanted to see him unconscious on the floor, it was unfortunate that the referee stopped the fight. But that wasn’t my decision. I did my job and it was a good fight.’
Takam was inspected on several occasions after two huge cuts above his eyes caused a relentless outpouring of blood
Pain is etched across the face of a blood-spattered Takam as the contender takes a heavy punch in the latter stages
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 the challenger braces himself for impact
Takam was fighting at 12 days’ notice – as an injury replacement for Kubrat Pulev – and lived up to his reputation as a tough opponent, absorbing big shots by Joshua and making himself tough to hit with his movement.
Takam took an eight count in the fourth round after toppling from a left hook by Joshua, and fought on with a cut above his right eye that twice required treatment.
Joshua was taken beyond seven rounds for only the second time in his pro career. The other time was the 11-round fight against Wladimir Klitschko in April.
Takam (35-4-1) was cheered by the crowd after the fight at Principality Stadium, Wales’ national sports arena.
Joshua was fighting at the heaviest weight of his professional career – 254.8 pounds (115.6 kilograms) – and predicted a grueling slog against an experienced opponent that gets in close and works the body.
Takam caught Joshua with some shots, but they didn’t have enough power to hurt the champion.
Still, Joshua looked frustrated at times, and even showboated in the seventh round by walking into Takam’s range with his arms out and head down, then shaking his head as Takam threw a punch.
Joshua knocks Takam down to one knee 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 opening rounds with a conservative approach, sensing out his opponent Takam in the early 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 few rounds in Cardiff
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
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
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.
The pair shared light-hearted conversation backstage in the build up to the world heavyweight showdown
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
Manchester United defender Marcus Rojo gives the thumbs up in the crowd of the Anthony Joshua fight
Over in the opposing dressing room Carlos Takam looked cool and collected despite the huge challenge ahead of him
The venue was packed to the brim, with thousands of fans desperate to see the world champion in action
Promoter Eddie Hearn made his way to ring side ahead of the headline event getting under way at the Principality Stadium
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