Anthony Joshua ends Kubrat Pulev’s world tittle hope with 9th round knock-out
London, Dec. 13, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Anthony Joshua set up a potential blockbuster all-British heavyweight title double-header against Tyson Fury in 2021 by taking care of business in brutal fashion against the resilient Kubrat Pulev on Saturday night.
Fighting for the first time since avenging that shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr and regaining his lost belts in Saudi Arabia 12 months ago, ‘AJ’ produced a dominant display against his mandatory IBF challenger in front of 1,000 returning fight fans – plus boxing royalty in the form of Floyd Mayweather Jr – at the SSE Arena, Wembley.
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Stepping into a ring on home soil for the first time in some 27 months, Joshua successfully defended his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO titles while securing a 24th professional victory with a highlight-reel ninth-round knockout – his first KO since 2018.
It was a succession of crushing uppercuts and a truly devastating, perfectly-timed final right hand that secured victory in an entertaining and feisty clash for the home favourite, who was initially due to fight Pulev in 2017, only for that bout to be scuppered by injury.
It really is so good to hear crowds back at the boxing!— Dave Coldwell (@davidcoldwell) December 12, 2020
Being there last week in the silence, few shouts here and there from corners & team members..
I’ve missed the real atmosphere of fight night! 🔥#JoshuaPulev
The duo were then supposed to meet at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in June, before the coronavirus pandemic brought boxing to a standstill.
But the 39-year-old Pulev – a former two-time European heavyweight champion challenging for a world title for the second time after his emphatic defeat by Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 – received praise for his durability, having survived a huge onslaught in the third round that left him trapped in the corner and in need of the referee’s intervention before then climbing back off the canvas to somehow make it to the bell.
However, Joshua remained composed after failing to finish the job early on, taking his foot off the gas somewhat in the middle rounds before producing a further pair of knockdowns in the ninth and the sort of brutal finish that was previously his trademark to leave the road open for that mammoth undisputed showdown with Fury next year.
“I started this game in 2013, I’ve been chasing all the belts, dealing with mandatories. Of course I want to challenge,” Joshua said of fighting Fury.
“It’s not about the opponent, it’s about the legacy and the belts. Whoever’s got the belts, I’d love to walk in with them. If that’s Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury. It’s no big deal.
“It’s the road to my next fight, I don’t care about anything else. It’s just one fight at a time, picking them off one by one. That’s all it’s about for me, I’ve got to stay focused.” ES