CARDIFF -- Anthony Joshua claimed his 20th consecutive knockout victim and reaffirmed his status as boxing's No. 1 heavyweight with a tenth round stoppage win over courageous Carlos Takam on Saturday.
Takam battled on through a mask of blood after sustaining a hideous cut by the right eye and after picking himself up from a fourth round knockdown, was stopped in the tenth round by referee Phil Edwards.
Takam -- a late replacement opponent who stepped in at 12 days' notice -- complained about the stoppage and caught Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) at times, but he was beginning to get pummelled.
An estimated crowd of 78,000 jeered the decision to stop the fight -- they wanted to see Takam (35-4-1, 27 KOs) flat on his back -- but it meant Joshua was able to maintain his 100 percent knockout ratio with a fourth defence of his IBF belt and first of his WBA title.
"It was a good fight until the ref stopped it, I have the utmost respect for Takam," said Joshua.
"I have no interest for what's going on with the officials. My job is the opponent.
"I don't have control over the ref's decision."
But Cameroon's France-based challenger was upset with the stoppage.
"I don't think they should have stopped it," said Takam. It was not a fluent display from heavyweight titleholder Joshua in bloody affair, but he got the job done to move on to more exciting opponents in 2018.
After the Joshua juggernaut mowed down another victim, bigger fights -- and tougher tests -- loom next year in unification fights next year against the likes of New Zealand's Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), the WBO champion, and the winner of American Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) against Haiti's Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) for Wilder's WBC belt on Nov. 4. American Jarrell Miller (19-0-1, 17 KOs) is another possible opponent for Joshua in 2018 if he comes through a fight against Poland's Mariusz Wach on Nov. 11.
Joshua's goal is to unify the heavyweight belts in 2018, holding all four versions of the world title. It is ambitious but if the fights can be made only a minority would be against the English boxer beating his rival world champions right now.
Previous defeats to Parker [on points last year] and to Alexander Povetkin [by knockout in 2014] did not suggest Takam would inconvenience Joshua for the championship distance.
And so it proved, but by no means was it an easy night.
Joshua had his own concerns, left with a bloodied nose and was caught at times.
When the music did not play for Joshua's ring walk, it was a sign that things were not going to run completely smoothly and in the second he hurt his nose on Takam's shaven skull.
"Imagine if it's broke and I couldn't breath and he started catching up in the middle rounds?" said Joshua in the ring after.
"It would have been a disaster, so I kept my cool. You have to control these situations because, if I showed any signs of weakness, the ref could have jumped in."
It injected a bit more purpose into the champion, who shook Takam with a right and then sent him back-pedalling across the ring from a big left.
Joshua landed a good left-right combination later in the second round, but did not have as much success in the third.
In the fourth, Takam suffered a nasty cut by the right eye from a big right by Joshua which caused him problems instantly with his vision due to the blood. Takam complained to the referee, Phil Edwards, about the cut but was told to box on, or stop.
When the fight continued, Takam was caught by a left that sent him spinning and was given a count as his glove was ruled to have touched down.
Takam bravely fought back in the fifth but Joshua teed off on him in the sixth, landing heavy, unanswered blows which resulted in the French challenger blinking and pawing the blood away from his right eye.
The seventh round saw Takam have some of his best moments of the fight as he repeatedly caught Joshua, who got sloppy.
In the tenth Takam was shook by a right to the head and as Joshua unloaded more punches that landed flush, which saw referee Phil Edwards stop the fight.