Frank Warren doesn’t think Steve Gray had much choice Saturday night.
Carlos Takam condemned the British referee for stopping his heavyweight fight against Joe Joyce too soon. Gray stepped in to halt the action 49 seconds into the sixth round, with a staggered Takam still standing at Wembley Arena in London.
Warren, whose company promotes Joyce, dismissed Takam’s complaints about their scheduled 12-round main event ending prematurely.
“Look, if you’re taking shots and you’re not throwing ‘em back, the referee has no alternative,” Warren told BT Sport during a post-fight interview. “And he was not throwing shots back.”
Takam previously took issue with British referee Phil Edwards’ 10th-round stoppage of his heavyweight title fight against England’s Anthony Joshua in October 2017 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Joyce’s jarring left hook just three seconds into the sixth round Saturday night completely changed what had been a very competitive bout during the first five rounds. An aggressive Joyce jumped on Takam, who bent over and tried to avoid Joyce’s barrage of follow-up punches.
The 6-feet-6, 263-pound Joyce landed various unanswered punches before a left-right combination made Takam stumble backward. Though Takam didn’t appear on the verge of falling to the canvas, that’s when Gray stepped between them and waved an end to their bout.
Before Joyce finished him, Takam had a lot of success, particularly with an overhand right that landed flush numerous times on Joyce. London’s Joyce (13-0, 12 KOs) admitted after defeating Takam that the contender from Cameroon “mildly” hurt him with at least one of his punches.
Takam took advantage of the 35-year-old Joyce’s defensive flaws, but Joyce’s power ultimately was too much for Takam to overcome. The 40-year-old Takam (39-6-1, 28 KOs) suffered the fourth knockout or technical knockout defeat of his 15-year, 46-fight career.
“I’ve gotta tell you, it was a very, very exciting heavyweight fight,” Warren said. “There’s no doubt about that. They both gave everybody value for money and it was a sensational finish.”
In addition to remaining unbeaten, Joyce’s victory ensured that the 2016 Olympic silver medalist will become the WBO’s mandatory challenger after Oleksandr Usyk faces Joshua on September 25 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Ukraine’s Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) has been the WBO’s mandatory challenger in the heavyweight division since June 2019. Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) owns the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.