Fight fans have been starved of high-quality heavyweight action in 2020, so Anthony Joshua’s title defence against Kubrat Pulev is a welcome tonic. But AJ is primed to turn the lights out early on the Bulgarian.
- Joshua – 23-1 (21 by KO/TKO)
- Pulev 28-1 (14 by KO/TKO)
- Joshua def Andy Ruiz Jr @ Diriyah Arena – Unanimous Decision
- Pulev def Rydell Booker @ Chukchansi Park – Unanimous Decision
Looming Fury bout has Joshua primed
Anthony Joshua was accused of looking past the universally unfancied Andy Ruiz Jr in their June 2019 bout, which saw Ruiz batter Joshua into a Round 7 TKO loss – the first of his career – in one of boxing great upsets. While AJ has bigger fish to fry than Kubrat Pulev, namely an upcoming superbout with Tyson Fury, there’s little danger of complacency or not focusing on the task at hand.
Joshua reclaimed the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles from Ruiz in December last year with a clinical unanimous decision victory. It was only the second time in Joshua’s career he has gone the distance, the other being the 2018 snoozefest against Joseph Parker. But the $1.11 favourite be eager to make a statement against Pulev and get the job done early, giving Fury something to think about before the proposed unification fight.
AJ is a knockout specialist
Joshua’s last four fights have included two wins by 12-round decision and a TKO loss. But the chiselled Brit has made his name as a power-punching KO specialist with lightning hands, stopping 21 of his 24 opponents. Consequently, a Joshua KO/TKO win is the runaway $1.33 favourite in the Method of Victory stakes.
An incredible 16 of his 21 knockout victories came in the first three rounds, rendering the Anthony Joshua by KO/TKO Round 1-3 promo outstanding value at $7.
What round does AJ get it done?
— Palmerbet (@PalmerbetAU) December 8, 2020
History to repeat as Pulev struggles to handle the step up in class
Pulev’s 28-1 career record deserves respect, but Joshua is on another plane to the Bulgarian stalwart.
His only career loss came in his only previous shot at a genuine big name: Wladimir Klitschko back in 2014. The Ukrainian legend delivered a fifth-round KO with a crushing left hook after three earlier knockdowns.
The tough 39-year-old is well past his prime. Pulev has had just eight bouts in the six years since losing to Klitschko (the 31-year-old Joshua has had 14 in that time – including a TKO of Klitschko in 2017), most recently getting a 10-round decision over Rydell Booker in November 2019.
Joshua is likely to take a measured approach into the bout. But that doesn’t mean he won’t take the early knockout opportunities Pulev offers up.