ANTHONY JOSHUA defended referee Phil Edwards’ decision to stop his WBA and IBF heavyweight title fight with Carlos Takam despite refusing to celebrate when he did so.

The 28-year-old had endured perhaps the most frustrating night of his career when, in his 20th fight, the resilient Takam resisted his heavy punishment until Edwards intervened in the 10th round. France’s angry Takam, 36, immediately spoke of his desire for a rematch having protested at the stoppage, which led to booing from some of those in attendance.

Joshua also suffered a heavily swollen nose, which doctors have confirmed is not broken, on the same evening his ring entrance music and some of the Principality Stadium’s screens cut out as he walked to the ring.

“I don’t care if I spark him out, it goes 12 rounds or the ref ends it,” said Joshua, who occasionally dabbed at his nose during his post-fight press conference. “People want to see the fighters I fight unconscious every time.

“I was delivering: I put him down, I hurt him, I slashed both of his eyes, he was bleeding. My shorts and boots were pure white and now they’re pink. People wanted to see him unconscious and I was trying, but the ref’s job is to let the fighter live on another day.

“Takam was showing the ref his eyes were nearly hanging off from the cuts, they were deep. When he was stopped he wanted to carry on: that’s a fighter’s instinct. Twelve rounds is fine, the stoppage is fine: I’m happy I got the win and can move on.”

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn had spoken post-fight of the intense pressure he fights under, and the heavyweight said: “You always have that instinct you want to hurt your opponent. I saw Takam was hurt a few times but didn’t want to go steaming in; I wanted the knockout to come naturally.

“You don’t see the headbutt coming, and it’s harder than a punch because it’s bone on bone, that crunch; it was just getting through that round.

“You really want 10 minutes to get yourself together, and it was managing it through the rounds because it was ready to start gushing with blood. (It stopped me breathing) a little bit. I’m happy the win’s secured and we’re moving on.”

Hearn also spoke of plans for Joshua to fight three times in 2018, beginning with March or April, and also said that the money involved in fighting in America would only be greater than that in the UK if they “get things right”.

Amid his plans to make an offer to American WBC champion Deontay Wilder to fight Dillian Whyte at London’s O2 Arena on February 3, it is increasingly likely his next fight will be in the UK, and Hearn said: “Boxing in October will allow you to get one in March, April time.

“Look at the summer as well. We may have a mandatory (title defence) with the WBA, that’s a bit unclear. There’s (WBO champion) Joseph Parker, there’s Deontay Wilder. Takam’s very tough for someone who’s only had 20 fights.

“I’d like him to have an international fight in 2018, but it does seem a shame to leave all this behind. That’s the problem, because it’s incredible.

“At the moment (there’s more money) here, but if you get it right, America. He has a very long-term strategy.”