IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) scored an emphatic highlight reel ninth-round knockout of his game but limited opponent Kubrat Pulev (28-2, 14 KOs) on Saturday night in front of an excited crowd of 1000 boxing fans at the Wembley Arena in London, UK.
Joshua shifted his offense into overdrive in the ninth round in knocking Pulev down twice. The final knockdown by Joshua came from a straight right hand that bowled Pulev over like a bowling pin. Pulev slowly got to a kneeling position and was counted out by the referee.
The 38-year-old Pulev probably could have gotten back to his feet, but he perhaps knew that if the fight had been allowed to continue, he would have been knocked flat by Joshua.
Joshua too much for Pulev
In the first knockdown of the ninth, Joshua hit Pulev with an uppercut that decked him hard. Pulev barely beat the count, and he looked like he was still out of it when the referee let the fight continue. At that point, Joshua finished Pulev with a right hand to the head.
Apart from the third and ninth rounds, the fight was a tactical chess match between Joshua and Pulev. Both fighters were smiling often, and treating each other like old friends rather than foes.
Joshua scored two knockdowns in round three and nine with his massive power shots that he was nailing the over-matched Pulev with.
The win for Joshua over Pulev was expected, as this wasn’t a match between equal talents. Pulev had earned his IBF mandatory spot by beating Hughie Fury rather than one of the talented contenders, so he hadn’t shown that he had any business being in the same ring with Joshua.
Wladimir Klitschko did a better job of beating Pulev with his fifth-round knockout in 2014 compared to what we saw tonight from Joshua. But that was a different version of Pulev, who went after Wladimir and tried to slug with him right away.
We didn’t see that from Pulev tonight against Joshua. The Bulgarian fought defensively and looked painfully thin and weak compared to the fighter that had fought Wladimir. Age has done a number on Pulev.
Joshua vs. Pulev undercard action:
Lawrence Okolie stops Nikodem Jezewski
#2 WBO cruiserweight contender Lawrence Okolie (15-0, 12 KOs) beat Nikodem Jezewski (19-1-1, 9 KOs) by a second-round knockout. The fight was stopped at 1:45 of round two.
Okolie stole the show tonight with arguably the best performance on the card with his raw punching power display.
Jezewski, 29, was in trouble from the word go, getting knocked down from a body shot by Okolie in round one, and then later getting knocked down a second time in the round from a punch to the head.
It was a miracle that Jezewski made it out of the first round, as Okolie’s right hands were badly hurting him each time he landed cleanly.
Interestingly, Okolie only threw a small handful of rights, but they were brutal with what they did to Jezewski.
It was like he was getting hit with a sledgehammer each time. Okolie’s power with his hand was just out of this world.
The improvements that Okolie has made in his game from his previous fights are just nothing short of incredible.
In the past, Okolie crowded his opponents, and that took away a lot of his power.
Not tonight, though. Okolie stayed at the perfect range on the outside and dropped massive bombs on the chin of Jezewski. Okolie looked like the second coming of Tommy Hearns with the way he was hurting Jezewski with each punch.
Okolie will now be taking on #1 WBO Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO cruiserweight title next year. That’s going to be a fun fight to watch to see how well the southpaw Glowacki handles Okolie’s power.
Hughie Fury defeats Mariusz Wach
Hughie Fury (25-3, 14 KOs) saved his career tonight in schooling the big 6’7″ former heavyweight world title challenger Mariusz Wach (36-7, 19 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision.
The scores were 100-90, 100-90, and 99-91. It’ll be interesting to see if the sanctioning bodies rank Hughie in their top 15 after winning over Wach. Hughie was recently dropped from the top 15 by the sanctioning bodies.
The 26-year-old Hughie started slowly but dominated Wach after suffering a bad cut over his left eye from an accidental head-butt in the third.
After suffering the cut, Hughie fought well to mix up his game and do a little of everything. You could see a lot of Tyson Fury in Hughie’s game with all the trickery he is doing and how he was constantly changing his game.
Wach, 40, was unable to cut off the ring on Hughie to land his hard shots after the third. At the start of the fourth round, Hughie hurt Wach with a straight hand that sent the Polish fighter backward in retreat.
Hughie tried to get Wach out of there, but he got a little overanxious and missed many of his follow-up punches.
Martin Bakole defeats Sergey Kuzmin
Heavyweight contender Martin Bakole (16-1, 12 KOs) defeated Sergey Kuzmin (15-2, 11 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision to capture the WBC International title.
This was a slow old fashioned type of heavyweight clash between two big guys slugging it out. The judges scored it 98-92, 97-93, and96-94.
Junior middleweight Kieron Conway (16-1-1, 3 KOs) beat Macaulay McGowan (14-2-1, 3 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision. The scores were 100-90, 100-89, and 100-89.
In the surprise of the night, recently signed Matchroom Boxing welterweight Florian Marku (7-0-1, 5 KOs) fought to an eight-round draw against Jamie Stewart (2-0-1, 0 KOs).
Marku knocked Stewart down in the second round. The fight was scored 76-76. After the contest was over, Marku was livid about not being given the victory, as he felt that he’d done more than enough to deserve the win.