On December 12, Anthony Joshua will butt heads with IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev in a showdown to decide the next home of AJ's WBA 'super', IBF and WBO belts.
The importance of this fight lies as much in providing the stepping-stone to an all-British mega-clash with Tyson Fury, as it does to retain the titles themselves.
It is nearly inconceivable that Fury would entertain the idea of the fights with Joshua if Pulev emerges victorious.
Joshua and Pulev were scheduled to fight in June, but these plans ran afoul of the Covid-19 pandemic. The O2 in London will play host to an event that sees Joshua fight in the UK for the first time in nearly two years.
To view this fight, you can head over to Sky Sports Box Office. They hold the exclusive UK broadcast rights for all of Joshua’s bouts, and booking this one will set you back £24.95.
Joshua starts as the heavy favourite, with odds of 1/10 being given. Kubrat Pulev comes in at 6/1, while the draw gives you 28/1.
On June 1, 2019, the 25/1 underdog Andy Ruiz Jr came in like a wrecking ball and wrenched Joshua’s four titles from him. This fight shocked bookies and most fans and highlighted the flaws in Joshua’s game.
Ruiz boasted superior hand speed, head movement and aggression, with Joshua looking slow, cumbersome and lacking in drive and inventiveness.
Questions were asked of Joshua’s training methods, with the disparity between his impressive physique and his boxing technique coming in full focus once again.
However, December 7, 2019 saw a rematch with Ruiz in which Joshua gave a much-improved performance and earned a crucial result. Joshua knew that the public perception of his career would likely be crippled by Ruiz proving this wasn’t a one-off. He brought a newfound energy and improved tactical nous, to claim a clear and unanimous decision.
While Pulev does not represent a pushover, understandably few will back him to cause the upset.
Pulev has twice won the European Heavyweight title. However, he has reached the level of a world title fight only once before, losing to Wladimir Klitschko five years ago.
This bout saw Klitschko knock Pulev down three times before finishing him in round five. The mandatory status of Pulev has been borne from his excellent recent form, as he claimed victories in each of his last eight outings.
Notable Career Wins
Pulev holds a record of 28 wins and one loss, while Joshua holds a record of 23 wins and one loss.
While both fighters’ records look easy on the eye, it is obvious that Joshua’s is the more notable, given the level of opposition he has come across.
Joshua’s most notable wins arguably came over Dillian Whyte, Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin and Andy Ruiz Jr.
Pulev has claimed victory against Derek Chisora, Kevin Johnson, Hughie Fury and Rydell Booker.
It is common in boxing for fighters to have ‘padded’ records, as the records of many top stars don’t look quite as impressive under the microscope. Many of the earlier victories come against journeymen fighters who take the money in order to provide for their families, but have no real chance against far superior opposition.
This was a criticism thrown often at Joshua in particular, with many of his earlier fights coming against fighters with awful records, who clearly had no business being in the same ring as him. Pulev also will have seen his stats boosted by this practice.
This bout will offer Joshua an opportunity to further rebuild the public’s trust in his abilities after the first Ruiz fight. Joshua will likely succeed in knocking Pulev down and out in hot pursuit of the more desirable Fury showdown.News Now - Sport News