IBF/WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) has no problem with referee Phil Edwards stopping his fight with Carlos Takam (35-4-1, 27 KOs) in the 10th round last Saturday night in the heat of the action at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Joshua says the referee’s job is to protect the fighters so they can continue their careers. As such, Joshua has no problems with the referee Phil Edward’s choice to step in and stop his fight last Saturday with Takam still on his feet and trying to fight back. For Joshua, this is the second consecutive fight in which a referee has stopped his fight with his opponent still upright.
“I do understand people want to see him unconscious. I was delivering. I put him down,” said Joshua. ”I hurt him; slashed both of his eyes, they were bleeding. My shorts and boots were white. They’re now pink from the blood. The ref’s job is to let the fighter fight another day. Twelve rounds is fine. A stoppage is fine. I’m happy I got the win.”
You have to wonder if Joshua would feel the same way if a referee stopped a fight in which he was taking punishment. For example, Joshua was knocked down by Wladimir Klitschko in the 6th round on April 29. Klitschko landed some big shots after the knockdown. The referee chose not to stop the fight, and yet when it came time for Klitschko to take punishment, the fight was stopped. Had the referee stopped the fight when Joshua was knocked down in round 6, I imagine he’d be screaming bloody murder, because his career would be impacted by the referee’s decision. Takam has a career, and he’s not happy with the way the referee stopped the fight.
“As a fighter, you will always have that instinct that you want to hurt your opponent,” Joshua said. “What was good was from everything my corner told me was, I saw he was hurt a few times, but I didn’t go steaming in. I didn’t want to go looking for the knockout. I wanted it to come naturally and we were slowly getting there.”
I think it’s obvious why Joshua didn’t go “steaming in” against Takam. Joshua didn’t have the engine to afford taking a risky move like going after Takam when he was still fresh, and capable of turning the tables on him if he gassed out. Joshua did fade in the last half of the fight in rounds 7-10, but not to the extreme that he did in the Klitschko fight. Takam was spending too much time boxing Joshua, and not enough time trying to push a super-fast pace that would have worn him down. That’s a mistake that Takam made, because he and his training team had to have known going into the fight what he needed to do in order to get the win.