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Joshua v Pulev: Preview and Prediction



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Anthony Joshua faces Kubrat Pulev on December 12

Joshua v Pulev: Preview and Prediction

A year after avenging his heavyweight title against Andy Ruiz Jnr, Anthony Joshua returns to action to face Bulgarian veteran Kubrat Pulev. The fight had originally been set to take place in June 2020 but was postponed due to Covid 19.

Joshua currently holds the IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight belts and will be defending them in this fight. A victory should take him a step closer to a unification fight against fellow brit Tyson Fury.

Anthony Joshua Career so far

Since his gold medal in the London Olympics in 2012, Joshua has become a household name in boxing. Rising through the ranks with ease,  he breezed past his first 14 opponents within the first 3 rounds knocking out the likes of Kevin Johnson and Gary Cornish in his early fights and winning the commonwealth title.

AJ’s first major test came against his old nemesis Dilian Whyte who had beaten Joshua during their fight at amateur level. Whyte caused problems for Joshua during the fight but ultimately AJ was able to knock him out in round 7, in doing so he gained the British heavyweight title and gained a mandatory fight for the IBF title against Charles Martin.

Just four years after turning pro, Joshua became heavyweight champion by defeating Charles Martin with a devastating second round knockout. It was light work for the Watford heavyweight.

A much bigger test was to come in 2017 against the dominant heavyweight of the previous decade, Wladimir Klitchsko. The fight proved an epic encounter and Joshua was able to show great determination to climb off the canvas and stop the experienced Ukrainian in round 11. This fight signified the end of Klitschko and the start of a new era in boxing.

Joshua made further defences against the likes of Takam, Parker and Povetkin. It all seemed like Anthony Joshua’s career path would be clean sailing and it was seen as a matter of time before he would overcome the final hurdle by arranging a super fight with American Deontay Wilder for the WBC heavyweight belt.

After long negotiations, AJ was instead forced to settle for another defence, this time against Jarell (big baby) Miller. However, that fight was cancelled following Millers drug ban, meaning the replacment fighter was Mexican Andy Ruiz Jnr.

Many pundits saw it as a formality knockout for the Brit. Particularly when comparing Joshuas muscle bound physique with the much shorter tubby physique of Ruiz. On the night it proved a disaster for Joshua. Ruiz was relentlessly able to punish Joshua with his great hand speed and power and the 11/1 underdog gained a 7th round knockout.  AJ was humbled to his first career defeat and it was his first sign of vulnerability. This had not just been a one punch knockout, it was a series of combinations which left Joshua dazed on the floor on four occasions.

In the rematch AJ strayed from his normal aggressive approach and instead opted to be more cautious, keeping the fight at distance, using his jab and his extra reach advantage to great effect to cruise to a victory by unanimous decision.

It will be intreaging to see whether Joshua uses this approach again against Pulev or whether he reverts back to a more direct approach to seek an early knockout.

Kubrat Pulev

The Bulgarian cobra had an exceptional amateur career which saw him win a gold medal in the European Championships in 2008. He eventually turned professional at the age of 28, and produced 20 consecutive victories, beating the likes of Tony Thompson and Alexander Ustinov. In doing so he was able to force a title fight against the reigning champion Wladimir Klitchsko.

Pulev began the fight in poor fashion and was knocked down twice in the first round, despite bravely working his way back into the fight, he was ultimately knocked out with a Klitchsko left hook in round 5.

Since that defeat Pulev has rebuilt his status with six consecutive wins, including a split decision victory against Derek Chisora and a unanimous victory over Hughie Fury.

Pulev was set to fight Joshua in 2017, following Joshua’s victory against Wladmir Klitchsko however, just two weeks before the fight Pulev pulled out of the fight with an injury with Joshua instead facing Carlos Takam.

Now aged 39, this could be Pulev’s last shot at a world title and he will be looking to expose Joshua’s defence and apply plenty of pressure.


Anthony Joshua to win by knockout 

Looking at the fighters CVs, despite both only having one career defeat it is clear that Joshua’s has victories against a better calibre of opponents than Pulev has faced in his career.

Joshua has beaten the likes of Whyte, Povetkin and Klitchsko during his career, whereas the best names that Pulev has beaten are the likes of Hughie Fury and Derek Chisora.

Anthony Joshua fared much better against Klitchsko than Kubrat Pulev. When Joshua faced Klitchsko he got the better of him in a 50/50 fight whereas Kubrat Pulev struggled against Dr Stellhammer’s power and was fortunate to last five rounds. It must also be noted that Pulev faced a prime Klitchsko whereas by the time Joshua faced Klitchsko he had been out of the ring for 17 months and was past his peak.

Joshua still has questions to answer after his defeat to Ruiz. AJ’s rematch victory may have been comfortable but it is no secret that Ruiz had not prepared for the rematch properly and had ballooned in size after beating Joshua.

Ultimately, I believe Joshua will be too powerful for Kubrat Pulev he is much fresher and has operated at a higher level in his career so far, I expect him to get a knockout during the middle period of the fight.



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Kurt is an MA Sports Journalism Graduate from Sheffield Hallam University. He is a big Newcastle United fan. Twitter- KurtLeyland1998 Email :


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