Anthony Joshua defended his WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles by wearing down a game Carlos Takam with a controversial 10th-round stoppage at a raucous Principality Stadium.
The Briton, 28, damaged his nose after a heavy head collision early on and did not have things all his own way against a fighter who took the bout at 12 days’ notice.
But in a key fourth round in which both men enjoyed success, Joshua dropped his man with a hook and badly damaged the eye of his rival.
Takam was twice inspected by ringside medics but battled on until he was overwhelmed in the 10th when referee Phil Edwards stepped in to end the contest, much to the challenger’s frustration.
Takam, 36, was under pressure but not out on his feet and some inside the Cardiff venue booed the stoppage.
A tricky test negotiated
Cardiff’s fans may have wanted a more clinical ending having waited 10 years for boxing’s return to this passionate venue but Joshua had come through a tricky test.
Things started badly when his walk-on music failed to play and the boisterous crowd howled as replays of the second-round head collision played in the stadium.
But the fourth round was pivotal in giving the masses the British win they came for. After two early Takam right hands Joshua retaliated and floored the Cameroon-born fighter, who returned to his stool badly cut above his right eye.
Referee Edwards scrutinised work on the injury in the corner and medics interrupted the fifth and ninth rounds to assess the issue further.
The challenger deserves immense credit despite a fourth defeat in 40 fights.
After settling in, the shorter and lighter man took risks to adopt his style of fighting up close and when he briefly backed the champion up in the seventh round, groans of concerns tumbled down the tiers to ringside.