It may be three years on from when these two fighters were first scheduled to meet in Cardiff back in 2017, but on Saturday night at around 10pm UK Time, British Heavyweight Champion of the World Anthony Joshua will put his WBA, WBO, IBA and IBO heavyweight titles on the line in his first defence of the titles he won back from David Ruiz at the end of last year in Saudi Arabia.
His opponent at Wembley Arena will be Bulgarian powerhouse Kubrat Pulev, a 39-year-old veteran who has lost just once in his career, a fifth round knockout loss to then champion Wladimir Klitschko back in 2015. Pulev was forced to pull out of the original fight between the two in 2017 due to injury, with Carlos Takam stepping in late on and losing to Joshua by TKO.
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Let’s now take a look ahead to the fight at the weekend at Wembley Arena where Anthony Joshua will defend his four heavyweight titles against the IBF’s mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. Let’s take a closer look at how the boxers shape up for this eagerly anticipated heavyweight bout.
Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev Preview
After his stunning defeat to David Ruiz at the start of 2019, Anthony Joshua reinvented himself for the rematch in Saudi Arabia and a slimmed down, lighter on his toes Joshua, clearly outboxed Ruiz to earn himself redemption and his titles back once again. Joshua will be much smarter for that experience, especially against a fighter in Pulev that shares some of the characteristics of Ruiz.
Pulev is a pugnacious, powerful and leaden footed boxer, a plodder that uses his physical strength and power to win his fights. However, his power does seem to be on the wane, three of his last four fights went the distance and he lacks the explosiveness that he had showed earlier in his career. At 39-years-of-age too, this is his last chance at a title.
Both fighters have one defeat on their record, Joshua has already avenged his, while Pulev never got a chance to against Klitschko and in truth, he was outclassed in that first fight, visiting the canvas on numerous occasions before a fifth round knockout ended the fight in Klitschko’s favour.
Tale of the Tape
|Anthony Joshua||V||Kubrat Pulev|
|6ft 6”||Height||6ft 4”|
|16st 13lb||Weight||17st 7lb|
|WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO||Belts Held||None|
Both fighters have faced the same opponent on four occasions, Joshua has won all four of those bouts, while Pulev has lost one of them, the only blemish on his record.
- Matt Skelton – Joshua (Won 2nd Round TKO), Pulev (Won 4th Round KO)
- Michael Sprott – Joshua (Won 1st Round KO), Pulev (Won 9th Round RTD)
- Kevin Johnson – Joshua (Won 2nd Round KO), Pulev (Won 12th Round UD)
- Wladimir Klitschko – Joshua (Won 11th Round, TKO), Pulev (Lost 5th Round KO)
In terms of the quality of their opponents, Joshua’s list is of a much more consistent and higher qualitt than Pulev’s 29-fight record. Joshua has fought more significantly notable opponents at international and world level than Pulev has, despite having five fewer fights and being eight years younger.
- Joshua’s most notable opponents – David Ruiz (Twice, Winning One, Losing One), Alexander Povetkin (Win), Joseph Parker (Win), Carlos Takam (Win), Eric Molina (Win), Dominic Breazeale (Win), Charles Martin (Win), Dillian Whyte (Win)
- Pulev’s most notable opponents – Rydell Booker (Win), Bogdan Dinu (Win), Hughie Fury (Win), Derek Chisora (Win – SD), Tony Thompson (Win)
How will each boxer approach the fight?
As Anthony Joshua showed against David Ruiz in the second fight, he can adapt to fight in a different style and did so beautifully to win that second fight by a massive unanimous decision. I do expect Joshua to adopt similar tactics here, using his reach advantage and jab to keep Pulev at bay and hoping to land a left hook, a tactic which worked superbly well for Klitschko against Pulev when the Bulgarian lost that bout.
Pulev’s style is to brawl and battle and use his strength and power to grind down opponents. It can be an ugly way to box, but it seems his best hope is to try and tie Joshua up and work on landing his big shots. However, whether he can chase Joshua down in the ring remains to be seen.
Who wins the bout, in what round and by what method?
I think given the styles of the fighters and their strengths and weaknesses, we will see Joshua boss the early stages of the fight with his movement and jab frusttating Pulev, who will soon tire of seeing Joshua’s glove in his face. Over time I expect Joshua’s punches to become more measured and start to damage Pulev by the middle of the fight.
I think at this point Joshua will strike and end the fight somewhere in the middle rounds. Joshua is an unbackable 1/12 to win the fight with bet365 at the moment, but you can get 17/2 on him winning in the sixth round and you can also back him to win by a knockout at 4/11.