Kubrat Pulev started slow, but turned the fight around and went on to largely dictate the pace of the fight over 12 rounds today against Tony Thompson, outpointing the American veteran to earn a shot at the IBF world heavyweight title. Pulev won on scores of 116-112, 117-111, and 118-110. BLH had it 116-112 for Pulev.
Pulev (18-0, 9 KO) is now in line to face the winner of the October 5 fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin, where Klitschko's IBF and WBA titles will be on the line. If Klitschko wins that fight as most are expecting, does Pulev, 32, really look to be a serious threat to the long-reigning king of the division?
Based on today's performance, it would be hard to do anything more than fluff that fight up. Pulev is a good boxer, without question. He looks to be one of the five best heavyweights in the world. But his game plan is centered around a one-two combination that he may not be able to get close to Klitschko with. Pulev likes his range, and likes to strike from distance. Logic says he can't win a distance fight with Wladimir, whose heavy, thudding jab is the best in the division, maybe the best in the sport, period.
Pulev does nothing special, and today we saw that he has some minor issues battling a southpaw style (not a concern vs Klitschko) and fighting inside, which it would seem would be his best bet against Wladimir.On the other hand of all that, though, we have seen Pulev look notably better than this against Alexander Dimitrenko and Alexander Ustinov, a couple of tall, plodding right-handers who, while they are not Wladimir Klitschko by any stretch of the imagination, do compare more closely to the Klitschko style than Thompson, an awkward southpaw.
Do you think Pulev has any realistic shot against Klitschko if that's the fight we wind up getting? And should he sit on this mandatory for a bit and try to get himself further prepared?
Thompson (38-4, 26 KO) had a hell of a 2013 even with the bad result today, beating David Price twice in the United Kingdom and fighting his way back into legitimate contention. And he hardly had a lousy showing today -- while Pulev was able to outclass him as the fight wore on, Thompson was never in any danger, and he exposed some weaknesses in the rising contender's game, too. He was able to play spoiler pretty well, and there are still a lot of heavyweights he's better than, even considering that he's 41 and his stamina isn't great, to say the least.
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