SSE Arena, Wembley – In a battle for the WBO, IBF, IBO, WBA world heavyweight titles, Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) dropped mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (28-2, 14 KOs) four times to secure a knockout in the ninth round. (photos by Mark Robinson)
They were initially scheduled to fight in 2017, with Pulev being forced to withdraw with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Carlos Takam, who Joshua stopped. Fast-forward to 2020, a date was set down in June – and later postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The fight started with jabs to the body by both men. It was a jabbing match for the most part, with Joshua having the slight edge. They were back to the jabs in the second. Pulev had Joshua on the back foot. He was comfortable with boxing off the jab and allowing Pulev to come forward. Joshua began to pick up the pace with his punch output as the round played out.
Joshua continued to fight off the jab in the third. Joshua rocked Pulev hard with a hook and then unloaded with an army of power punches to drop him. Pulev got up, tried his best to recover and Joshua was battering him with more punches. Pulev was hurt all of the ring before he was dropped by a hook for a second time. He managed to hold and survive to the bell.
In the fourth, Joshua controlled the action with his jab as Pulev used the round to recover and was getting back in form. Pulev was able to do a little better in the fifth, with Joshua controlling things with his jab. And the same pattern continued in the sixth. Joshua continued to jab in the seventh, he threw a big combination of power shots that Pulev was able to weather.
Pulev was applying a lot of pressure in the eight and dictating things, as Joshua was mostly jabbing to the body. In the ninth, Joshua was picking up the pace again and starting land more often on Pulev. He was jabbing very often to the body and dropped him hard with an uppercut. Pulev was hurt and in serious trouble when he got up. A right hand sent Pulev down for the fourth time, this time for the full count as Pulev was unable to get up.