Preston ref Phil is man in middle for Joshua title fight

Phil Edwards looks on during Tony Bellew's win over David Haye
Phil Edwards looks on during Tony Bellew's win over David Haye
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Preston-based boxing referee Phil Edwards is set to be the man in the middle on another big night for British boxing.

Having taken charge of Tony Bellew’s win over David Haye in March, the experienced official has been handed the task of keeping order when Anthony Joshua defends his world heavyweight titles against late replacement Carlos Takam at the Principality Stadium.

Boxing referee Phil Edward, from Penwortham

Boxing referee Phil Edward, from Penwortham

Around 70,000 tickets have been sold for the clash in Cardiff on October 28, with Edwards having previously refereed Joshua’s second-round stoppage of Raphael Zumbano Love in his 12th professional fight in Birmingham back in 2015.

Takam, 36, had been on standby to replace the IBF’s mandatory challenge Kubrat Pulev who pulled out on Monday with an upper-arm injury, with Joshua wary of the threat the Cameroonian-French slugger poses.

The British star revealed Takam even approached him in a hotel lobby shortly after the first defence of his IBF crown against Dominic Breazeale last year – and knows he will be eager to grasp his “golden ticket”.

Joshua, the IBF and WBA champion, said: “After I fought at the O2 (against Breazeale), Takam waited at my hotel in reception and said to me, ‘I want to fight you’. He came to the fight, then waited for me in reception.

“I knew who he was. He’s a big unit, 22 stone, and I think he will be harder to knock out because he’s incredibly durable.”

Takam brings with him a record of 35 wins from his 39 bouts, with only one stoppage loss against Alexander Povetkin, and a points defeat to WBO king Joseph Parker, the recent low-key conqueror of Hughie Fury, in New Zealand last year.

Although like Pulev he will start as a significant underdog, he is far from the worst late replacement promoter Eddie Hearn could have mustered, and brings the added benefit of enabling Joshua to get his mandatory title defence out of the way before targeting bigger prizes next year.

Joshua said: “Takam’s a credible opponent and we can’t take our eye off the prize.

“He is not going to come in and lie down in the first 
round. He will be in hostile territory and think, ‘What have I got to lose?’ – this is his golden ticket to shock the world.”