Anthony Joshua returns on Saturday to defend the WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles against veteran contender Kubrat Pulev from London, with the fight airing on DAZN and Sky Box Office in the UK>
Here’s how our staffers see it going.
With respect to Pulev, who is a decent fighter, and respect to the heavyweight division, where any big punch can change a fight very suddenly, my only question going in here is whether Joshua gets the stoppage or he boxes too cautiously and fearful of anything big coming back and spoiling a potential massive payday in a year or so if/when he can fight Tyson Fury FOR ALL THE MARBLES! Even the LINEAL!!!!!! marble!
Pulev really took a crack at it when he fought Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, and then Klitschko cracked him, repeatedly, until it was over in five. Pulev didn’t really have any big wins before that and doesn’t really have any big wins since — his best notches are probably Tony Thompson in 2013 and Derek Chisora in 2016, and I don’t think he’d have ever beaten AJ, and definitely not at 39. Pulev’s just one of those modern heavyweights who really is pretty good, but never got the right opportunity. He was there at the wrong time to get an Oleg Maskaev or Shannon Briggs style world title. I’ll say AJ gets him out late, but this going a dull 12 wouldn’t surprise me at all. Joshua TKO-10
As much as I’d like to, I just can’t buy into all the hype Kubrat Pulev is shilling. Pulev’s 39 years old and it’s been over six full years since he last contended for a major world title. Pulev would have you believe he’s better now, and in perfect condition to seize the belts, but I just can’t see it happening without an Andy Ruiz-esque lightning strike.
As for Joshua, I obviously think he’ll win here, but I do have questions about how much last year’s loss to Ruiz will affect his style going forward. Will Joshua still be willing to go into a fight and take risks, or is he content to safeguard his belts by attempting to outpoint opponents who are far less athletically gifted than he is? We obviously don’t know the answer to that question for certain, but I suspect Joshua takes a much more cautious approach until he lands his megafight, which will lead to more decisions than knockouts. In this case, I’ll take Joshua to point his way to a win. Joshua UD-12
How to Watch Joshua vs Pulev
Patrick L. Stumberg
What exactly is meant to carry Pulev to victory against a younger, taller, rangier, heavier-handed champion? Even if you do give Pulev the edge in overall boxing craft, it’s not by much, and certainly not by enough to offset the enormous disparity in stopping power. He can’t trouble Joshua with speed the way Ruiz did and he’s not winning a slower-paced outfight the way Wladimir Klitschko did during his better rounds.
The most feasible Pulev victory sees the 39-year-old box his way to a 12-round decision, and between his lack of eye-catching power and the fact that he fell from every single clean punch Wladimir Klitschko landed, I can’t see him doing it. Joshua catches him cold sometime in the middle rounds. Joshua KO-5
I’ve ummed and ahhed over this one throughout this week, but only over the method of the victory this weekend. Pulev feels like the perfect heavyweight for Joshua to re-stamp his authority on. The Bulgarian is patient, has good footwork for a heavyweight and can deploy a useful “European” jab whilst understanding distance, but isn’t quick or powerful enough for Joshua to fear his every attack – he also tends to move in straight lines which should allow Joshua to implement his heavy right hand. This is crucial. After feeling the challenger out over a quiet opening, I can see Joshua rolling the dice to good effect and landing a six. Countering Pulev’s jab with his superior size and a right over the top should be the money shot, with Pulev not known for his slipperiness. Pulev will need to land combos to have success in this fight and may get caught out trying to be too greedy. Joshua KO-6