On Saturday afternoon in the states, Anthony Joshua makes his 2020 debut in a mandatory bout against one-loss Kubrat Pulev on DAZN/Sky Sports Box Office. Pulev represents the last step before an undisputed matchup with Tyson Fury in 2021. According to a recent IFL TV interview with Eddie Hearn, the Fury/Joshua fight could be announced post-fight, Hearn stating “You will see how far along we are in the negotiations after the fight.” With high hopes, boxing fans are looking forward to that fight to find out who the best U.K fighter is as well as #1 at heavyweight. Of course, fans and Anthony Joshua can’t afford to put the carriage before the horse as he must first get by Kubrat Pulev.
2019 was an up and down rollercoaster of a year for Anthony Joshua. From a shocking technical knockout loss in June to Andy Ruiz to a triumphant win in the rematch last December. Not only did Joshua make a strategy change in the rematch he made changes in his habits in the time between fights. Like many fighters, Joshua would gain weight after a fight and then need to focus too much in camp getting his body in proper shape which made his body bulky by the time fight night came around. Also, working on his craft rather than only heading back to the gym when a training camp was nearing. Some didn’t approve of his fighting style against Ruiz but at the end of the day, he got a clear victory and learned valuable lessons along the way.
Kubrat has been around the block, to say the least, and at age 39 it’s make or break on Saturday. ‘The Cobra’ is a quality fighter with skills enough to give Joshua trouble especially if Pulev finds his groove early. In the buildup to this fight, several media members have made it seem the only way for Pulev to win this fight is to bring the pain directly to Joshua. Obviously applying pressure and landing bombs is a good idea if a boxer is worried about getting screwed on the scorecards. It helps even more if the boxer is comfortable with that raging bull, in their opponent’s face type of fight. Let’s not forget that can also get a fighter hurt and/or knocked out.
Pulev may in fact come out guns blazing and use his quick combo punching to back up Anthony Joshua. Let’s not rule out Kubrat using a similar style as Joseph Parker did versus Joshua instead of face-first brawl he could box on the outside. A stationary target plays right into AJ’s hands and the odds of success decrease if that stationary target doesn’t have huge punching power. Working the jab and making Joshua have to track Pulev down could prove as a way to bank rounds. Joshua is clearly not as accurate when he has to continually reset on offense making him a bit of a plotter and exploiting his stiffness he shown in spots.
Pulev’s best win looking back on it now may have been a SD over Dereck Chisora along with victories over guys like Alexander Dimitrenko, Alexander Ustinov, and Tony Thompson. His only loss as a professional came by the hands of Wladimir Klitschko via 5th round. In his loss to Wlad, the left hook was an important weapon so look for that punch to land from AJ pretty much all night. Pulev did try to make it a rough and tumble scrap during the clinch which we can assume he will try to do with Joshua in the same position.
It will be interesting to see what weight AJ comes in as because it was evident that he weight too much prior to the Andy Ruiz rematch. Anthony weighed in at 237 a year ago and looked lighter on his feet and better overall. (Update: 240 was official weight) Joshua will have a 2 ½ inch reach on Pulev, 79 ½ is better reach scenario for Pulev than Parkers 76 and Ruiz at 74 regardless of what style he chooses to fight.
This boxing podcaster does believe will get a two-way affair in the early goings and it will be up to which Joshua will we see in the ring. My best guess is he will be patient leading with the jab and look to time Pulev with lead left hooks and straight right hands. Anthony Joshua will be smart enough not to open up too much on defense, a weakness for both men. Whether it’s within 4 or 5 rounds, maybe it will come in the later stages, look for Anthony Joshua to stop Pulev.
My Official Prediction is Anthony Joshua by TKO.
Side Note: Shakur Stevenson returns to the ring in the main event versus Toka Kahn Clary & KO Artist Edgar Berlanga on ESPN but the co-feature Verdejo vs. Nakatani will steal the show. Also, Chris Colbert takes on Jaime Arboleda on Showtime with Korobov/Ellis & Hitchins/Mendez as part of the Tripleheader.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Com Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio