Anthony Joshua has retained his heavyweight titles in an unexpectedly tough fight against stand-in opponent Carlos Takam.
The referee stopped the fight in the 10th round after Joshua rocked his opponent, who was battling on despite a bad cut over his eye.
It was a bloody bout in Cardiff, and Joshua picked up an injury of his own early on and may have broken his nose after a clash of heads.
The two fighters put on a more dramatic show than many were anticipating
Takam, 36, took the fight with 12 days’ notice after Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev picked up an injury.
The Cameroon-born fighter put Joshua through a far tougher test than many expected and never appeared fazed by Joshua’s pressure.
Takam was visibly hurt by the cut he picked up in the fourth, and with blood streaming the doctor was called several times in the fight to see if the fighter could continue.
He was also given the count in the fourth after his glove touched the canvas following a left from Joshua, but bravely fought through to the later rounds and caught the champ with some decent shots.
But when Joshua landed punches in the 10th, the referee quickly stepped in to stop the fighter taking any more punishment to his eye.
Boos rang out around the 76,000-strong crowd in the Principality Stadium, as Takam protested with the referee.
Joshua was ahead on the pundits’ scorecards but the challenger was clearly determined on taking the British IBF and WBA heavyweight champion to the final round.
“Unfortunately, the ref stopped it. I think people wanted to see Takam on the floor and I was getting there,” said Joshua.
“It feels like (a broken nose), he started catching up in the later rounds and it would have been a disaster if I’d lost. But I kept my composure and continued to fight.”
Takam – who will have won a lot of fans for his determined performance – told fans that he wanted a rematch.
However, Joshua will now be setting his sights on bigger name opponents such as WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
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