A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Cardiff, Wales
Anthony Joshua TKO10 Carlos Takam -- Full recap
Retains unified heavyweight title
Records: Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs); Takam (35-4-1, 27 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Joshua, 28, of England, was in a tough spot coming off his epic slugfest and 11th-round knockout victory over former longtime world champion Wladimir Klitschko in April. He not only had to remain focused on an opponent not nearly as formidable in mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, but then he had to adjust the a new opponent in Takam, 36, on less than two weeks' notice when Pulev withdrew because of a shoulder injury. Takam, who had been on standby and training in case something happened to Pulev, took over the mandatory spot and gave Joshua an entirely different look than what he had been preparing for. But Joshua is the No. 1 heavyweight in the world and made the needed adjustments as he retained his title for the fourth time, although there was a little bit of adversity in a mostly one-sided fight waged at Principality Stadium before an indoor boxing record crowd of 78,000.
An accidental head butt damaged Joshua's nose in the second round, so he fought through that. But Joshua, bigger, stronger and more powerful, opened a cut over Takam's right eye in the fourth round and also dropped him with a right hand late in the round. Joshua continued to rock Takam with shots until Takam mounted a rally in a good seventh round as he landed several right hands. But by the eighth round, Takam was also cut over his left eye and was wiping the blood away. Still, he showed enormous heart and had a good ninth round, but Joshua took command again in the 10th.
As Takam was dodging shots and seemingly fine, referee Phil Edwards made a terrible stoppage by stepping in at 1 minute, 34 seconds in the 10th when Takam was in no particular trouble. He robbed Joshua of the chance for an authoritative ending and Takam of finishing a tough fight on his feet. It was an inexcusable intervention. Nonetheless, Joshua rolls on, hopefully setting up a unification fight for next year with Deontay Wilder, who fights on Saturday.
Dillian Whyte W12 Robert Helenius
Scores: 119-109 (twice), 118-110
Records: Whyte (22-1, 16 KOs); Helenius (25-2, 16 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Whyte, 29, of England, and Helenius, 33, of Finland, put on a snoozer of a fight that was nowhere near the kind of exciting bout Whyte won in December when he narrowly escaped with a split decision against Dereck Chisora. But as lackluster as the fight was, Whyte, who has been howling about getting a shot at world titleholder Deontay Wilder, won handily over Helenius, a once-highly regarded contender who dramatically regressed in recent years. Helenius' only good round was the second, which is when he connected with a few solid shots. But it was all Whyte after as he worked the seemingly underconditioned Helenius with a good body attack and also gave him a bloody nose in the eighth round.
Whyte won his sixth fight in a row since a seventh-round knockout loss to Anthony Joshua, but did not exactly turn in the kind of performance that would give boxing fans a reason to demand to see him face Wilder.
Kal Yafai W12 Sho Ishida
Retains a junior bantamweight title
Scores: 118-110, 116-112 (twice)
Records: Yafai (23-0, 14 KOs), Ishida (24-1, 13 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Yafai, 28, of England, made his second title defense in relatively easy fashion against Ishida, 25, who had never faced a top opponent and was boxing outside of his home country of Japan for the first time. While Ishida had a height and speed advantage, Yafai was much more aggressive and appeared to have better power. The fight settled into a repetitive rhythm as Yafai was in command in virtually every round. It was more or less a warm-up fight for Yafai, who could make his United States debut in February on HBO on the network's second all-junior bantamweight card, possibly in a defense against former titlist Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs), the former pound-for-pound king and Nicaraguan legend.
Katie Taylor W10 Anahi Esther Sanchez -- Full recap
Wins a vacant women's lightweight title
Scores: 99-90 (three times)
Records: Taylor (7-0, 4 KOs), Sanchez (17-3, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Eleven months after turning pro, Taylor, 31, an Olympic gold medalist for Ireland in 2012 and a 2016 Olympian, won a world title. The belt was vacant because Sanchez, 26, of Argentina, was one pound over the 135-pound division limit and was stripped the day before the bout. Taylor scored the only knockdown of the fight in the second round when she floored Sanchez with a left hook to the body. Sanchez survived the knockdown and more punishment from Taylor in the round. Sanchez landed a few crisp shots in the fight, but this was mostly a dominant performance from Taylor, who has quickly emerged as one of the top female boxers in the sport.
Saturday at Mexico City
Moises Fuentes KO1 Ulises Lara
Records: Fuentes (25-4-1, 14 KOs), Lara (18-16-2, 10 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: On July 8, Fuentes, 30, of Mexico, a former strawweight world titleholder, lost a 10-round majority decision to 35-year-old countryman Lara, a former flyweight world title challenger, for his second loss in a row. But Fuentes and Lara met in a rematch and Fuentes scored an emphatic victory to avenge the defeat. Fuentes sent Lara to the canvas with a punishing five-punch combination to the head and body less than a minute into the fight. Lara rebounded to trade toe-to-toe with Fuentes, who was warned for a low blow. Moments later, Fuentes connected with a clean right hand to the head and Lara went down to all fours on a delayed reaction and was counted out at 2 minutes, 40 seconds.
Friday at Schwerin, Germany
World Boxing Super Series quarterfinals
Juergen Braehmer W12 Rob Brant
Scores: 119-109, 118-110, 116-112
Records: Braehmer(49-3, 35 KOs), Brant (22-1, 15 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Former two-time light heavyweight world titleholder Braehmer is 39, and it is rare for aging fighters to find success dropping down in weight, but Braehmer did just that as he returned to a division he hadn't boxed in since 2007. He was also coming off a knockout loss and a year layoff. All of those factors are why Brant, 27, of St. Paul, Minnesota, who was moving up from middleweight, was the favorite despite fighting in Braehmer's hometown. However, Braehmer, a southpaw, showed he still has something left in the tank as he methodically outboxed and outpunched Brant, who performed poorly. Brahmer countered well and his defense was also solid. In the end, he won going away in a surprising result. He advanced to the early 2018 semifinals to face Callum Smith (23-0, 17 KOs), 27, of England, who undoubtedly will be the favorite. Just like Brant.
Filip Hrgovic TKO1 Pavel Sour
Records: Hrgovic (2-0, 2 KOs), Sour (6-1, 5 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Hrgovic, 25, of Croatia, claimed a super heavyweight bronze medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics (losing to eventual gold medalist Tony Yoka, of France, in the semifinals) and turned pro with Team Sauerland on Sept. 30 with a first-round knockout of experienced journeyman Raphael Zumbano Love. A month later, Hrgovic returned for his second fight and notched another first-round stoppage, this time of Sour, 35, of the Czech Republic. Hrgovic is definitely a prospect to keep an eye on. He had no issues, and as the opening round was winding down, blasted Sour with an overhand right to the side of the head to knock him down. Although Sour beat the count, referee Holger Wiemann elected to stop the fight at 2 minutes, 59 seconds.