Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev: 7 reasons Tyson Fury would still beat AJ in 2021


Anthony Joshua retained his titles in style with an emphatic victory over Kubrat Pulev. 

The damage was done in an exhilarating third round, with the Bulgarian being knocked down after a flurry of heavy punches. 

Pulev deserved credit for staying in the fight long after that, but he eventually succumbed with another knockdown in the ninth - Joshua's first knockout since 2017. 

AJ's style drew criticism in some quarters. Dillian Whyte, on radio commentary, saying Joshua had "let Pulev back in the fight". Peter Fury, who was present due to Hughie Fury being on the undercard, unsurprisingly echoed those thoughts. 

Even so, the Brit became just the second man to beat Pulev (following Wladimir Klitschko in 2014) in front of 1,000 fans at Wembley Arena and it was a mature performance, knowing when to ease off and when to pile on the pressure.

There's one name which has been mentioned in the same breath as AJ in the run-up to the fight almost as much as that of Pulev himself: Tyson Fury. 

The WBC champion lies in wait for a bout that would unify the division and a match-up wouldn't just satisfy the British boxing contingent. It's the fight every heavyweight fan on the planet wants to see. 

Eddie Hearn promised we would be seeing a very different Joshua after a year out of the ring to the one we saw in the double-header against Andy Ruiz Jr. It was immediately clear on Saturday night that the days of the muscle-bound, somewhat flat-footed AJ are over. 

The 31-year-old is probably the one man who would make a formidable opponent for Fury right now, but who would win? 

Mike Tyson recently said, via The Sun, that Fury is the "best heavyweight champion of the world since myself" and we're inclined to agree. 

Here's why the Gypsy King should be the favourite if they do meet next year. 

Fury can out-move him

Joshua is dynamic and powerful, but Fury is the better boxer technically. He can box inside, outside, even on the back foot. Whether AJ goes in all guns blazing or tries to pace himself, Fury has the ability to deal with him. 

AJ to run out of gas 

Though Joshua is looking leaner, he's so often run out of stamina by the sixth or seventh rounds. That wasn't the case against a 39-year-old Pulev (or against Alexander Povetkin, who was the same age when they fought), but he''d be up against an entirely different animal in Fury. 

Fury's record swerving the big punches

One element of his arsenal where Joshua is superior is in his punching power. There are two things to consider here: first, Fury's response to being knocked down by Deontay Wilder, an even bigger puncher in their first fight. Secondly, his speed in dodging punches was shown in his fights since coming back, particularly against Tom Schwarz - not the highest calibre of opponent, but it showed how quickly Fury can get out of trouble. 

Will Joshua be able to keep Fury at a distance? 

AJ is looking steadier and has learned how to manage his fights more effectively since that shock defeat to Ruiz Jr. He often operates best by holding his opponents off, but Fury has the superior reach. 

Catch Joshua and he could struggle to recover

Maybe we can no longer read too much into his fight with Dillian Whyte, but the Body Snatcher badly hurt him with a powerful left hook. Likewise, in the first Ruiz Jr fight, it was really one punch that threw him off guard. 

IQ in the ring

Fury's in-fight intelligence is often underestimated. Take a look at how he changed his tactics in the second Wilder fight. He's adaptable and while Joshua is an instinctive fighter, his corner may struggle to keep up with the Fury family. 

Is AJ's muscle still a problem? 

The old criticism levelled at Joshua was always that he was muscle-bound and that made him flat-footed and unable to move effectively. By his own admission, he has had to work on adapting his physique but he'd have some tough decisions to make on how best to prepare for Fury. 

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