We are a couple of days away from the unified heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev and they both know what’s at stake. Pulev knows that this may be his last attempt to be a world champion, and Joshua could be on his way to fighting for the undisputed heavyweight title if he wins on Saturday. They look like they have had great training camps and feel upbeat for the bout that will take place in Wembley Arena.
Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) is one year removed from regaining the unified titles from Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia where he used his jab to keep Ruiz away from him and threw power shots when available as Ruiz did not have any answer to Joshua’s style. It showed that Joshua could make adjustments before the fight and be wary of what his opponent could do. For this fight, Joshua has studied Pulev and knows what he has done in the ring as Pulev has been a pro for 11 years. His ability to scout his opponents makes him one of the best students of the sport, and he is confident that he has the blueprint to defeat Pulev.
“I’ve known Kubrat Pulev for many years,” Joshua said at the press conference. “I was in the training camp when his brother was sparring Warren Baister. I was in Klitschko’s camp when he prepared for Pulev. I understand some of tactics that need to go in to beating him.”
While the fight could end in a stoppage as many are leaning towards Joshua getting that result on Saturday, he has no issues if the fight goes the distance.
“I’m prepared for the fight to go to the final bell, I feel like I’m a 15 round fighter not a 12-round fighter. If it needs to go 12 rounds, I’ll be more than capable to carry my stamina, my boxing IQ, concentration and strength until the final bell.”
The IBF mandatory challenger from Bulgaria has waited a long time for this opportunity. Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) held the top spot in the IBF rankings a few years ago and was set to face Joshua in October 2017. Pulev suffered a shoulder injury weeks before the bout and had to withdraw leaving Joshua to face Carlos Takam in Cardiff. Now after three years, he is finally getting his shot at Joshua. Six years ago he faced Wladimir Klitschko for the unified championship but was stopped in five rounds. He looks to be in good shape and is ready for the fight of his life.
“I knew the fight would come one day,” Pulev said. “We waited a long time for this fight. In 2017 I had a problem with the sparring and I couldn’t fight. Now I’m healthy, and I’m ready to get the win.”
Pulev has had a string of wins since the Klitschko fight, which include victories over Dereck Chisora, Samuel Peter, and Hughie Fury. However, this is a significant step up for him at this stage of his career. He seems hungry and determined to go after Joshua and score the victory.
Cover photo by Dave Thompson